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The Cat From Outer Space

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
The Cat From Outer Space Movie Poster Image
Talking alien cat outsmarts lesser humans in '70s comedy.
  • G
  • 1978
  • 104 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

Looks can be deceiving.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A smart alien who looks like a house cat has flown a spaceship to earth. He can do advanced math and science. A general and his staff are a bit slow and the "brilliant" scientists gathered to evaluate the spaceship's energy source seem even slower.

 

Violence & Scariness

Soldiers point guns at a scientist trying to help his cat friend get back to his people. A daring mid-air rescue saves a woman and cat from crashing in a helicopter. References are made to the Soviet threat that worried U.S. military at the time.

Sexy Stuff

A male and female cat lick each other.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Cat from Outer Space is a 1978 Disney movie about a flying saucer from a galaxy far away that's populated by an advanced race of cats. Their technology interests the U.S. military and a scoundrel who wants to use the cats' extraterrestrial power source to rule the universe. Even the youngest children will notice that the special effects are outdated and the pace is slow compared to similar stories made in more recent decades. Soldiers point guns at a scientist trying to help his cat friend get back to his people. Peril is mild. A mid-air rescue of a woman and her cat stuck in a helicopter are as scary as this gets.

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What's the story?

In THE CAT FROM OUTER SPACE, an alien who looks like a house cat, nicknamed Jake (voice of Ronnie Schell), turns out to be the pilot of a mysterious spaceship that has landed on Earth for lack of fuel. The ship contains lots of advanced technology, including a mysterious power generator that baffles the U.S. military and a gaggle of scientists trying to figure it all out. The cat selects one oddball researcher, Frank (Ken Berry), to confide in. He shows Frank his remarkable powers of telepathic communication, his ability to freeze people in their tracks and to influence events on Earth, including horse races and pool games. When the cat diagnoses his ship's problem as a need for $120,000 worth of gold, Frank enlists a goofy colleague (McLean Stevenson) with a gambling problem to win enough to raise money to fund the gold purchase so the cat can take off and join his fellow aliens. A token power-mad villain is also after the cat and his powerful collar, and that leads to a kidnapping, a helicopter-airplane chase, and a daring rescue. Both the villain and military fail to capture the cat, who, with his human help, blasts off into space happily ever after.

Is it any good?

This Disney comedy hails from an era when filmmaking for families and kids often featured an exaggerated innocence and dopiness that bore little resemblance to reality. Disney's special effects and its presentation of the way people speak and behave has become better, as in the excellent The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Toy Story of the '90s, and Finding Nemo of 2003, among many others, so kids raised on those great films may shake their heads in wonder at The Cat from Outer Space. It's possible that the sheer silliness of the concept will entertain the youngest children, but tense moments regarding the cat's safety and a kidnapping and helicopter rescue may cause some anxiety in that group of viewers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the why it's fun to imagine interacting with extraterrestrials. What would you ask if you met one?

  • Why do you think The Cat from Outer Space makes the military officials and scientists look unintelligent? Do you think that allows the cat to seem smarter?

  • Do you believe there are beings somewhere in the universe from other planets with more advanced civilizations than ours? Why? Would you like to meet them?

Movie details

For kids who love animated tales

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