The Adventures of Milo and Otis

Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
The Adventures of Milo and Otis Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Lovable pet tale about friendship despite differences.
  • G
  • 1989
  • 76 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 43 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 33 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

While not a documentary, the movie does portray actual animals, so throughout the film the narrator explains what might be going through the animals' mind.

Positive Messages

The messages about unconditional friendship are wonderful: Milo and Otis are loyal to each other and help each other through life-threatening situations. Later, as fathers, they also brave the elements to make it to safety. The movie's positive outlook might be dampened by the sense that the filmmakers may have exploited or even endangered animals to make the fictional tale.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Milo and Otis demonstrate friendship across differences, loyalty, and bravery, as well as teamwork and courage. They're also good fathers.

Violence & Scariness

More violence than usually expected from a G-rated movie, particularly because the film features real dogs and cats, instead of animatronic puppets or computer-animated animals. Most of the movie features the dog and cat evading danger from encounters with various animals, like bears, hedgehogs, seagulls, and more. Milo bothers and pushes various animals, from crayfish (who snap back at him) to birds. Milo jumps off a cliff to escape a flock of seagulls and is forced to spend the night alone in the dark. Both Milo and Otis have close calls with predatory bears.

Sexy Stuff

Milo meets a mate, and eventually Otis does as well (the couples romp around together in the snow). The births of kittens and puppies are shown.


Some mild threatening language like "You're dead meat" or "Make my doggie day" or "cruddy."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a classic '80s family film and an entertaining look at how a barn cat and dog befriend each other and are willing to risk everything to help the other survive. Families sensitive to animal rights should know that the movie has since come under scrutiny for having possibly put the various dogs and cats in the film in dangerous situations for the benefit of the plot. The movie shouldn't be mistaken for a documentary, but it does show how dogs and cats deal with other farm and wild animals. There are some frightening situations, especially when Milo and Otis are separated and must face predatory bears, seagulls, and other animals by themselves. In one scene, Milo even jumps off a cliff. The births of a litter of puppies and kittens are depicted, but not in an overly graphic manner. Ultimately, this is a story of an unlikely but unconditional friendship.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byheymaiabee January 2, 2015

Wish I had read user reviews instead of just Commonsense review!

I REALLY wish CommonSenseMedia's review of this movie had put a lot more emphasis on the "controversial animal cruelty" aspects of this movie- Pe... Continue reading
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byanne f November 24, 2009

Not recommended

While it is a cute tale, the cats used to play Milo clearly were put in harm's way for filming numerous times. Milo was filmed plummeting off a cliff and... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJimboTheErradicator December 18, 2013


I actually really think that this review was ridiculously off. They acknowledge that it's violent, but barely skim over the fact that the animals were actu... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byhollystormflower November 17, 2020

animal cruelty

this movie has severe animal cruelty especially when Milo was thrown off the cliff and also when he was going down the waterfall.

What's the story?

At the start of THE ADVENTURES OF MILO AND OTIS, newborn Milo, a real scamp of a kitten, meets timid puppy Otis and it's the beginning of a hilarious friendship. Trouble finds them everywhere, even in the form of an irritated, nose-tweaking crab! But fun turns into peril when Milo gets swept downriver in a box. Otis follows, trying to rescue his frightened friend. From then on the two have numerous scary encounters -- most notably with a voracious bear who just won't give up -- but eventually Otis rescues his friend. Joyce, another cat, joins Milo and Otis as they try to return to the farm. Otis becomes jealous of the new cat's relationship with Milo and takes off on his own. In the midst of winter, Otis meets and falls for Sandra, another pug. Milo, Otis and their respective mates give birth to many little ones. Milo and Otis reconcile and in the spring, finally head for home.

Is it any good?

In terms of spunkiness, Milo is one of the most high-spirited rascals in children's cinema. Dudley Moore provides the voice of Milo, Otis, and the narrator: he's alternatively excited and droll, speaking for each animal character and providing amusing commentary. Like many adventure tales, The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a coming-of-age story: they leave home for the first time, undergo tests of their courage and friendship, and return ready to accept responsibility. The movie also addresses the cyclical nature of life, demonstrating that birth and death are part of the process. We see animals born and eaten; Milo catches a trout, the raccoon shows up and steals the trout, only to have a bear show up and claim it for himself. Thus, although the animals here have human voices, the movie acknowledges their place in the natural world. Above all, this is story of a friendship. Cat and dog are there for each other in the end. The movie places great value on overcoming differences, suggesting that if Milo and Otis can do it, so can people.

Unfortunately, after the film's release, animal-rights groups in Australia and Europe accused the Japanese filmmakers of cruelty and of killing or injuring the various cats and dogs used in the production for the benefit of the movie's plot. The American Humane Society attempted to investigate the allegations, but nothing was confirmed except for the fact that the movie does not depict any animal injuries or deaths.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the friendship between Milo and Otis. How is it special? How did they prove their loyalty to one another in The Adventures of Milo and Otis? What lessons can we learn from them?

  • What do you think about the allegations that the filmmakers endangered animals in the making of this movie? Does that change your experience of the film? Does it make you less likely to watch or recommend it?

  • How do Milo and Otis demonstrate teamwork and courage in The Adventures of Milo and Otis? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate