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The Cat From Outer Space Review

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After the US authorities find a crashed spaceship, its pilot, a cat with a miraculous collar that allows it to communicate with humans, goes on the run. He finds help in the shape of Frank Wilson, who may have the skills to mend the craft and allow him to escape.

★★★★★

Disney, in the late ‘70s, seemed up for anything, as long as they could hawk it to minors on some cutesy content — a possessed VW beetle, psychic kids, mother-daughter body swapping. This conceptual ballast reached an all-time absurd with this sci-fi blather about an alien pussy complete with that hoariest of stalwarts telepathic powers. Talk about covering your bases, you get a furry star and slapstick antics as Jake the interstellar cat flies a bi-plane. Still, this does predate ET by four years.

It’s very slight, flushed with that identikit suburban Disney gloss, but is handled by Norman Tokar with an easy charm. Jake (voiced by Ronnie Schell) has a likable nonchalance and mild disgust at humankind’s antics. The writing isn’t exactly first base, but is still clutching for second. But there is some intelligence in the idea of Jake’s downed saucer needing $120,000 worth of gold before it can take off. The only answer his surrogate keeper, Ken Berry playing a helpful scientist, can come up with is to hit the casino, where the cat’s psychic powers can stack the odds in their favour.

The effects are dotty and obvious, but sensibly not too ambitious. A cello playing itself care of Jake’s talents is patently strung up with wire, but the budget was slim and the miracles of digital manipulation must have seemed about as likely as a talking cat. Yet, there’s enough here to capture the imaginations of the smallest viewers, animals with personalities always work a treat in that department, but the film’s rewards will always have to be measured by the simple proposal of its title.

Clearly not a |Disney classic as almost no-one has heard of it, this is vaguely enjoyable 70s hokum.

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