A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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."
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?
- On DVD or streaming: March 9, 1986
- Cast: Ramon Bieri, Steven Kampmann, Caroline McWilliams, Steve Vinovich
- Director: Greg Beeman
- Studio: Walt Disney Television
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Run time: 87 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love animals
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch