The Adventures of Milo and Otis Movie Poster Image

The Adventures of Milo and Otis

Lovable pet tale about friendship despite differences.
Popular with kids
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 76 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:April 5, 1989
DVD/Streaming release date:March 21, 1995
Cast:Dudley Moore
Director:Masanori Hata
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Horses and farm animals, Wild animals
Character strengths:Courage, Teamwork
Run time:76 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Parent Written byRKrieg June 20, 2011

Cruelty to animals

This film is delightful to watch, until you realize all the cruelty that was certainly in play during the making of it. Real cats and dogs are depicted suffering and fighting for their lives against real opponents, situations engineered by the filmmakers. Children listening to the narration will not be aware of what is really going on, but it is obvious to any adult observer -- especially when the kitten is flung off a 40-foot cliff into the ocean, or at the top of a tree trying to evade a snake. Use your "common sense" and don't support this film.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Parent Written byJesseCaf March 30, 2013

not recommended

My wife and I cringed all throughout this movie as the animals were constantly in situations that you could tell were stressful/dangerous. Although that stuff all went over our 3-year-old's head, we won't watch it again. And they drop the poor cat off a cliff into the ocean...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educator and Parent of a 7 year old Written byannefessler 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 going over a waterfall in a box. These scenes were shot from far enough away that we can see that there are not crew members nearby to rescue the cat if need be. We rented this without realizing the controversy surrounding it.