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The Richest Cat in the World

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
The Richest Cat in the World Movie Poster Image
Cute cat and kids can't save poorly made '80s comedy.
  • NR
  • 1986
  • 87 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

Be loyal and generous to your friends. Reading is an important skill. Greediness usually backfires. Wastefulness is wrong. Family trumps wealth. Make the most of every day. Focus on the positive. Leo's life advice: "Inch by inch, life is a cinch. Yard by yard, life is hard."

Positive Role Models & Representations

A dying man leaves his millions to his cat out of friendship and loyalty. A couple that never treated their uncle well in life schemes after his death to kill off the cat in order to inherit the millions, blaming others when their plans go awry. The nephew, posing as a doctor, takes advantage of an unwell patient to hypnotize and command him to commit a crime. Leo the cat teaches the boy Bart how to read, and in turn Bart takes good care of Leo. Bart and his sister show resourcefulness, courage, and grit in rescuing Leo. Their father, a humble groundskeeper, is dedicated to his job and his family.

Violence & Scariness

Trying to capture Leo, Victor gets into a series of accidents that lead to a broken leg, a sprained neck, two broken arms, and an apparently broken back, all played for laughs. Kids are chased by a barking dog. A taxi almost runs into a cyclist. There are threats of danger to the kids as well as to the cat.

Sexy Stuff

Victor grasps his wife's head to try to kiss her, but she pushes him away in disgust. Leo the cat says, "Five million bucks -- you think I could afford some dancing girls." A fake National Enquirer headline reads "Fat Cat Runs Off with Vegas Showgirl."

Language

Very mild insults include "stupid," "bum," "idiot," "weirdo," "out to lunch," "quack."

Consumerism

Covers of Time, People, and National Enquirer are shown with fake headlines. A character drives a Ford station wagon.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Victor and Paula give a celebratory toast with glasses of champagne. Leo says the milk he's served isn't as good as the champagne he was accustomed to.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Richest Cat in the World is likely to bore all but the very youngest of viewers, who may be entertained by the concept of a talking cat and the slapstick physical humor. Yet very young kids also aren't an ideal audience for this film, because if they believe any of what they're seeing, the threat of danger to the protagonist kids could make them anxious. Bart spends long hours alone with the cat in an empty mansion, getting himself into potentially dangerous situations, like climbing a wall of bookshelves. He and his sister take a taxi alone nearly an hour away from home and sneak into the rundown house of a mentally unstable man to save Leo, getting into several near-crashes on their journey back. The unstable man, apparently all better after a therapy session with Leo, becomes the kids' babysitter when their parents later take a vacation to London. Trying to capture Leo, Victor gets into a series of accidents that lead to a broken leg, a sprained neck, two broken arms, and an apparently broken back, all played for laughs. Leo says, "Five million bucks -- you think I could afford some dancing girls." Insults include "stupid," "bum," "idiot," "weirdo," "out to lunch," "quack."

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What's the story?

Dying millionaire Oscar Kohlmeyer (Ramon Bieri) leaves the bulk of his estate to his cat, Leo (voiced by Larry Hagman), making him THE RICHEST CAT IN THE WORLD. Oscar's nephew, fraudulent therapist Victor (George Wyner), and his scheming wife Paula (Caroline McWilliams) decide they must do away with Leo in order to lay claim to the inheritance. What they don't know is that Leo is also the smartest cat in the world -- he can talk, and he's even been to college. Leo outwits Victor and Paula at every turn, until Victor hypnotizes a vulnerable patient (Steven Kampmann) and commands him to steal the cat. But Leo has also befriended the children (Brandon Call and Kellie Martin) of the Kohlmeyer estate groundskeeper (Steve Vinovich), and it's the kids who will ultimately save the day.

Is it any good?

Talking cats are nothing new on-screen, so a film like this one has to offer more beyond this initial premise to make it worth the watch. Early 2019 headlines about a real-life "richest cat," when designer Karl Lagerfeld reportedly left an inheritance to his beloved cat Choupette, could give The Richest Cat in the World renewed relevance. But despite a few funny moments, especially a pre-Anchorman spoof of on-air broadcasters, and a couple of touching scenes between Oscar and Leo and later Bart and Leo, the humor and the drama of this uneven feature both ultimately fall flat.

Leo is cute enough, especially in the flashback scenes of his kitten beginnings, and he's sporting '80s idol Larry Hagman's voice (uncredited for some reason), but his adult personality just feels weird in the body of a cat befriending a small boy. The shtick involving Victor breaking bones gets old quickly, and he's flanked by two performers apparently being told to wildly overact as his zealous wife and his unstable patient. The director also wasn't able to pull very natural performances out of the two child actors, nor did he manage to edit out a scene where you can spot a microphone reflected in a car window.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether it makes sense for a person to leave all of his or her money to a pet, like Oscar's beloved Leo in The Richest Cat in the World. Why do you think someone would do this?

  • Did you understand why the nephew and his wife were so angry about Oscar's final wishes, or did you think they were just being greedy? Did you find them funny or threatening, or both?

  • Did Bart and Veronica make the right decision to try to save Leo without the help of their parents? What would you have done in their situation?

  • What other non-animated films have you seen with talking pets? Which was the most realistic?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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