Review: The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1989)

The Adventures of Milo and Otis is a children’s movie that captures something about human existence that many adults should be able to appreciate, too. Ironically, the film does not contain a single human character, but rather focuses on a cat and dog, friends since childhood, who embark on a lengthy journey when Milo the cat finds himself swept away in a river.

The film was produced in Japan, but recut for American audiences with new narration by Dudley Moore, an actor who lends a considerable warmth and heart to the proceedings. This voice work, combined with the cuteness of the animals, carries the film for long stretches, although the narrative structure becomes fairly repetitive. Milo and Otis encounter animal after animal, and much of the film is episodic in this way. Some may find that this kind of thing is, well, a bit too much fluff, but I think that there is a poignancy that gives the admittedly cute-on-overload movie a bit of depth.

This poignancy arises from the universally felt danger of putting oneself “out there” in a friendship, or otherwise, laying bare the heart and putting forth an effort to build something that is ultimately just as dependent on the other person to flourish. This subject is mostly treated with the film’s characteristic lightness, but the pain still resonates at a crucial point in The Adventures of Milo and Otis. The film, to its credit, reminded me that life is an adventure worth taking risks. However, this major asset is held back to a degree by such a simple, and at times, repetitive story, one that I’m guessing won’t have much replay value.

Rating: **1/2 (out of ****): Pretty Decent

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