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Rudolf the Black Cat

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Rudolf the Black Cat Movie Poster Image
Tender animated cat friendship tale has sad, scary parts.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 89 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Never surrender your dreams, which take courage to pursue. Being educated and making organized plans are positive qualities. Don't judge people by their looks or first impressions. True friends make life more enjoyable, love you for who you really are, can be like family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Friends take care of each other, protect each other, respect each other's boundaries. Humans take care of animals, even stray cats. Humans also chase off stray cats and abandon or replace their own pets.

Violence & Scariness

Cats, including a small and defenseless kitten, face the dangers of a city, including cars, bikes, people, bigger cats, mean dogs, and heights they can fall from. A scary dog attacks two different cats, leaving one almost fatally injured. One cat-dog fight has some close-ups of the dog's drooling mouth and sharp fangs as he pounces and chases. The kitten gets locked into a freezer truck and turns into a block of ice, nearly freezing to death.

Sexy Stuff

Buchi is easily enamored with attractive cats and eventually starts dating one. They share an accidental kiss after eating from opposite ends of a steak, Lady and the Tramp style.

Language

"Devil." "Hell."

Consumerism

Japanese cities, lifestyle, and food dishes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rudolf the Black Cat is a tender animated tale about friendship and belonging. The central storyline of a kitten lost from home in a faraway city could be emotionally upsetting to some, as could the ending, where that same cat finally makes his way home only to find his beloved owner has replaced him with a new, nearly identical kitten. There are some mild scares as cats and kittens are chased by humans and dogs, nearly run over by cars and bikes, and come close to death in a dog fight and a freezer truck. Particularly scary is a scene where a small kitten is chased and attacked by a large dog with fangs known as "Devil" (his fenced yard is referred to as "Hell" by the neighborhood cats). The dog winds up befriending the cats when he admits he's envious of their friendship, and all of the lost, abandoned, and lonely pets forge their own new family together. Buchi is easily enamored with attractive cats and eventually starts dating one. They share an accidental kiss.

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What's the story?

RUDOLF THE BLACK CAT has always been curious about what lies beyond his beloved owner's front gate. When he finally works up the courage to venture out, despite the warnings of a wiser and older neighbor cat, Rudolf (voiced in the Japanese original by Mao Inoue) accidentally boards a truck bound for faraway capital city Tokyo. Once in Tokyo, he befriends a large stray cat (Ryohei Suzuki), whom he calls "Gottalot" because he's got a lot of names -- every human they encounter calls him by a different name. Rudolf also meets scrappy neighborhood gossip Buchi (Norito Yashima) and local bully "Devil" the dog (Arata Furuta). Gottalot takes Rudolf under his care, protecting him from city dangers, teaching him how to find the best food as well as how to read and write, mentoring him as he grows from kitten to cat, and eventually helping him hatch a plan to travel back to his hometown of Gifu to reunite with his owner, Rie (Rio Sasaki). The reunion doesn't go as planned, and Rudolf decides to travel back to Tokyo and live with his adopted family of pets.

Is it any good?

This is a charming film with big-hearted animal characters, gorgeous Japanese scenery, and a sweet story about true friendship. The lead characters are cats, each a different type, and there's plenty of feline fun in their adventures, from snatching fresh fish to outsmarting the dogs. Humans are portrayed as largely loving toward the animals, putting food out for strays and caring deeply for pets.

But it's the relationship between the lost kitten Rudolf and gruff street cat Gottalot that makes Rudolf the Black Cat such a tender tale. Gottalot starts as annoyed caretaker, morphs into mentor and teacher, and then transforms into dear friend, a lasting role that ultimately makes him as vulnerable as Rudolf. The computer animation and soundtrack perfectly complement the touching storyline, bringing both the setting and the characters to life. You can't help but root for these pets as if they were people.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the bonds between pets and their human owners seen in Rudolf the Black Cat. Have you ever had a pet, and what did he or she mean to you?

  • Does the story of a lost pet remind you of other movies you've seen or books you've read? How do the tales compare?

  • Which parts of the movie were scary and why? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • Rudolf is taught to read and write by another cat. Besides the novelty of literate cats, there's a message here about the importance of being educated. What's your opinion about that? How can a good education help you in life?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love animals

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