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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review: The Cat From Outer Space

I mentioned before Thanksgiving that my family watches movies on the holidays and that I was going with Disney classics since those are about the only films we can all watch together. I like action and adventure and my parents don't. On Thanksgiving, we watched The Boatniks and that was a huge hit, so I decided to try The Cat From Outer Space, another live-action Disney movie. It's from 1978 and stars Ken Berry as Frank and Sandy Duncan as Liz.

Warning, there will be spoilers!

The basic premise is that a spaceship lands on Earth in need of repairs and the pilot is a cat who can communicate telepathically and has a collar that allows his thoughts to transform into actions. The military shows up and takes the spaceship away, and the general goes to a think tank full of scientists to figure out how the ship is powered. The cat hears Frank's theory, and while everyone else laughs him off, our feline ET knows that Frank is the one to help him repair his ship and go home.

Not only does Frank have to outwit the military, but the think tank is employing a bean counter who is secretly working for a megalomaniac named Olympus. If you just scratched you head and went, huh, you're not alone. This plot line served no real purpose in the movie.

Anyway, the cat needs about $120,000 in gold to replace a filament on his ship and Frank enlists the help of another scientist to help them gamble their way to the money. They get the gold and the army shows up to arrest them. The cat freezes them, they escape and head to the army base so our ET can leave. Olympus kidnaps Liz (Sandy Duncan), Frank's love interest and fellow scientist, and the friend who helped him make bets.

Instead of leaving, ET kitty decides to stay and rescue Liz (friend was released to let Frank know Liz was held hostage) even though it means he's stuck on Earth forever because he'll miss the rendezvous with the mother ship.

This movie was bad. Maybe if you're a little kid you can enjoy it, but I found this ridiculous and disjointed. Olympus wasn't necessary, but his sole role appears to have been to kidnap Liz. Liz was unnecessary because she kept showing up, interrupting Frank trying to help the cat return to outer space.

The military in this movie had the worst security ever. And our feline hero, who might miss his chance to go home if he messes up, is constantly losing focus whenever Liz's cat is in the room.

It was an excruciatingly long 1:45. In fact, it felt much, much longer than that. What really put the topper on bad for me, though, is the dramatic "climax." I put it in quotes for a reason.

Olympus takes off in his helicopter with his two henchmen, his spy, Liz, and her cat. Frank and our ET feline take off in a beat up old junker plane that the cat is keeping in the air by thought alone. Super spy (read sarcasm here) in the helicopter tries to shoot a flare at the plane and instead disables the helicopter. The boss and the two henchmen have parachutes and bail out--super spy grabs Olympus' straps and free falls with him. That leaves Liz and her cat in the disabled helicopter.

The ET cat maneuvers the plane close to the helicopter and Frank rescues the cat. Now he tells Liz to take his hand and he'll help her get on the plane. And Liz won't do it. She's dinking around forever. I finally yelled at the TV set, "Either let Frank help your or go back in the helicopter and land the damn thing!" As she continues dithering, I added, "You're too stupid to live."

And I think that summed up the entire movie for me--stupid. I love Disney pictures. Normally. I can even tolerate a great deal of cheese, but this was way too much for me. My recommendation--give The Cat From Outer Space a pass.

My rating: 1.5 stars (It got bonus points because the general was Colonel Potter from MASH and the friend of Frank's who gambled was Colonel Blake from MASH.)