Archive for June 1986

The Adventures of Milo and Otis

June 27, 1986

A fairly entertaining and bouncy Japanese import, starring a kitten (Milo) and a puppy (Otis) who live happily on a farm until they wander away and meet a bear, a hedgehog, a fox, a snake, and their soon-to-be mates. It sounds insufferable, but it’s handled with a surprising amount of visual wit, and if you’ve ever lived with a playful kitten or puppy you’ll probably succumb in spite of yourself. These two really seem to be buddies. The film’s chief asset is that it isn’t a tearjerker — there’s no devastating ending in which the animals go their separate ways or die. It’s a rarity, a fun kids’ movie that doesn’t make you feel like a sap. In the American release, which is 14 minutes shorter, Dudley Moore’s narration (which gets aggressively cutesy in spots) is a serious demerit, as is the idiot theme song that will lodge itself in your brain like a tick (“We’re gonna take a walk outside today, gonna see what we can find today,” blah blah). The rumors about mistreatment of animals during filming are said to be unfounded; scenes like the one in which Milo goes over a cliff into rough water have horrified many viewers and spawned speculation that a third of the cats playing Milo were killed in order to get the proper endangerment shots. You be the judge. Personally I think the rumors stem from the need to think the worst of a cute film, and there’s racism behind it too (those Japs will kill kittens for a movie!). The great Kon Ichikawa was the associate director. The original Japanese cut (Koneko Monogatari) can be found, but is pricey.

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