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"The Cat Is an Alien—But a Cat."
An 11-year-old critic reviews a feline comedy-thriller from the '70s.
This year’s fall break was long—five days long—and much of it dreary. Thankfully, 11-year-old TBP correspondent L.B. was up for an assignment: The 1978 film The Cat from Outer Space (Disney+), which thoroughly entertained her and her equally restless buddy from down the street for an hour and forty minutes.
TBP: Thanks for doing this, L.B.
L.B. No problem.
Let’s start with the basics: What’s The Cat from Outer Space about?
It’s about this guy, Frank, who believes in supernatural things. He’s brought into a meeting about this flying saucer they found and everybody tells Frank he’s crazy. Meanwhile, there’s a cat in the room and when Frank talks the cat perks up—because the cat gets what Frank is talking about.
Is Frank a scientist?
Yes, I think so, and really creative. He’s pretty young and he thinks in a new way—not like the others. The cat follows Frank, who goes to work and sees the cat and starts feeding the cat. And the cat starts talking to him. The cat tells Frank his theory is correct: The cat is an alien—but a cat. He came in on the UFO. Frank names the cat Jake. He brings Jake to his apartment. Then this lady knocks on the door and they plan a date-ish thing—I guess it’s a date, she’s his love. And then she leaves and as Frank and Jake start having a conversation Frank’s neighbor busts in. The neighbor’s wife kicked him out of the apartment because she wanted to watch a soap opera and he wanted to watch football. And you know, Frank can’t have a conversation with a cat while his neighbor is around so he wants the neighbor to leave. And there’s a spy who works for an organization.
What does Jake look like?
Super-short hair. Gray. Defined, small face. Very slim body. And his love is this white poofy cat with long hair! Lucybelle. [Laughs.]
Jake has a girlfriend?
Yes, and the owner of Jake’s love, Lucybelle, is Frank’s love, Liz. She’s a woman scientist—she’s sweet and cute and understanding but smaaaaaart.
Does she believe in the supernatural?
She does once Jake appears!
So Jake is a cat who can talk. Does Jake have any other superpowers?
Yes, Jake has special powers—like he can control you to start floating. Oh! But he can only do it with his collar on; without it he’s powerless. If you put on the collar you could do all the things he could do.
Do bad people try to steal Jake’s collar then?
Yes, there’s an evil guy who wants it so he can control the world. The spy works for him.
What movie category would you say TCFOS falls into?
It’s a mix. It’s sci-fi—a cat alien who comes down from a UFO. It’s also kinda, like, funny. And Jake and Lucybelle are really cute.
Are the special effects really good?
Not realistic enough to be, Wow! But not so unrealistic that you’re constantly reminded it’s fake. Like there’s a scene when a guy gets wrapped up in paper towels and you’re like, I don’t know how they did that but I know it’s fake. There’s another scene where the cat, Jake, is using his special collar to fly through the air in a broken jet—like, completely broken, like, shouldn’t even be moving—and now I’m like, That was so fake but it was also so funny. And at a certain point on the flying broken jet Jake gets distracted because his cat love, Lucybelle, gets on the jet with him, and they’re just looking at each other, purring. It’s so funny.
What year would you guess this movie was made?
1800s or 1900s.
[Laughs.] I mean the 1980s or 1990s.
It was made in 1978.
Not too far off!
Would you recommend this movie?
Yes, if you’re a kid who likes cats and likes to laugh.
What about the parents? Would it be good for a family movie night?
It’s a good family movie if you just want to have a laugh. The whole thing is funny now that I’m reflecting on it, but in the movie there are moments of intensity like, C’mon!!! She’s going to die!!!
Was it too long or too short?
The perfect length.
So you would say it’s the cat’s meow.