But it looked so benign...
Like so many families with several kids, we went hunting last weekend for a movie we'd not all seen - a difficult task when balancing the needs of a five-year-old with that of an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old. After some deliberation, we selected "The Adventures of Milo and Otis." It was rated G, had a reasonably strong user review rating, and I thought: "How bad could it be?" Even if kitschy, who couldn't relax and enjoy 80 minutes of what I assumed would be banal cuteness. With the "G" rating, we didn't bother looking it up on Common Sense Media, which also gives it high rating. ////
First off, the movie isn't particularly banal. From a storytelling standpoint, it's not half-bad: the characters get into real and frightening trouble, and the challenges just keep pouring in. When you think they've made it through the worst, the next bugbear (sometimes a real bear) rises up to alarm us. ////
And that's when, about 1/5 of the way into the movie, as I grew more and more discomfited by what I was watching, my 11 year old said, "Just how many kittens did they have to kill to make this movie?" -- expressing exactly what I was starting to wonder. I now wish we'd turned the movie off - but like happening accidentally on the scene of a crash and glancing before realizing we should look away - we kept staring in disbelief as the horrors for the animal "actors" just became more horrific. I kept thinking, "Wow - I can't believe the director did that ... it can't get worse from here, can it?" ... and it did ... over and over, beating us around the head with animal actors who appear to be in real and actual danger in which they are clearly in fear for their own well-being. ////
I like a good horror or R-rated action movie -- but I don't tend to share those movies with my kids. Since watching this film, I've felt ... grossed out about it. As others have noted, a kitten is dropped off a very high cliff into the ocean, a bear bites a cat's paw (ow!?), a bear smacks a dog's head (ow!!), a kitten falls down a serious waterfall in an open box (how many takes were needed to get that shot??) ... and with those painful moments as a backdrop, one wonders to what lengths the director went to get other scenes which seem more benign ... ////
If this were an animated story, or if the most painful moments were not really filmed but implied, this would have been a cute but enjoyable film. There are some interesting (even impressive) moments between other animals and the protagonists, but due to the questionable treatment of the animals, the whole movie just ends up feeling uncomfortable. ////
I've never written a bad review of a movie before, and I'm normally very lenient -- making films is no easy task -- but like other commenters, I wanted to give fair warning about this film.