A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this imaginative offshoot of Whispers of the Heart has violent scenes of cartoon cats engaged in battles with swords, spears, and chains. But the overarching story of Haru learning that "nobody decides who I am but me" is an inspiring story for mature tweens and up.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Haru (voiced by Anne Hathaway) walks home with her friend after a tough day at school when she rescues a cat from nearly getting run over by a truck. The cat is actually the Prince of the Cats, hailing from the Kingdom of Cats. In gratitude, cats everywhere bring gift-wrapped mice to her school locker, and want to take her to the Kingdom so she can marry the Prince. Her only escape from this odd fate comes in the form of a mysterious voice summoning her to the Cat Bureau, where the dashing feline Baron (Cary Elwes) and his portly companion Muta (Peter Boyle) (both of whom were characters in the charming anime Whispers of the Heart) try to rescue Haru from both marriage to -- and transforming into -- a cat.
Is it any good?
This movie's as strange as it is imaginative. A human girl is summoned to marry a princely cat, cats fight with swords, spears, and chains, a girl transforms (metamorphosizes?) into a cat, a jester cat substitutes squid-throwing for knife-throwing to entertain a cat king, etc. But for parents and kids wearied of the trite and formulaic, THE CAT RETURNS should be a refreshing change from the typical. It brings back two of the characters from the charming coming-of-age anime Whisper of the Heart, but don't expect this to be a sequel. The Cat Returns is its own surreal deal.
Counterbalancing the highly-creative adventure story is the inspirational story of Haru's self-affirmation, as The Baron and Muta inspire her to believe in herself and to not allow her destiny to be controlled by others. (Especially cats.) There is a fair amount of cartoon violence as Haru tries to make her escape from the Kingdom of Cats, but all-in-all, The Cat Returns is a fun -- and unusual -- adventure tale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Haru's social, school, and home life are depicted in the film. How is it similar or different to your life?
How is this anime's portrayal of tween life similar and different to tween life shown in American films?
In the midst of an argument, Haru proclaims, "Nobody decides who I am but me!" What does this mean, and how might these principles be applied in daily life?
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