The Cat From Outer Space (1978)

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The Cat From Outer Space (1978)

Post  BoG on Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:35 pm

For cat lovers and those also into sci-fi,  here's the ideal pic, though you also need to appreciate Disney comedy. A small spaceship lands in a farmer's field at night; we hear voice-overs as the pilot is told he has a limited amount of time to get to a certain spot for rescue. When the pilot exits the ship, we see that he looks just like a common house cat, with a fancy collar.  As expected, the military - headed by a loud general (Harry Morgan) - is on the scene very quick. The ship is taken away; no one sees the cat stow away in the back of a jeep. We learn that the alien cat's collar, glowing when active, functions as some kind of door opener (telekinesis, actually). As the film progresses, however, we find out it has other powers...
That's the set up. The alien cat soon finds an ally: a quirky physicist (Ken Berry) whose theories the alien cat can relate to while eavesdropping on a meeting about the alien ship's propulsion drive (Berry mentions the "primal mainstream").  The cat can communicate with him via a form of telepathy. Berry nicknames his new friend "Jake" (the alien cat's actual name is "Zoonar J-5/9 Dorek 4-7").  Berry's other friend is played by MacLean Stevenson, a goofball who has to be taken into their confidence due to his betting experience; they need 120 Grand quick for some gold - the spaceship's repairs - and the cat's powers can win football games for them (even games on TV!).  Sandy Duncan is a fellow scientist and possible love interest for Berry. The plot takes a ridiculous turn when the cat is accidentally sedated, so the stumblebums rush about trying to figure out an alternative to the football bets.  tongue

The central setpiece & bet transpires to be a very oddball pool game, again dependent on the cat's telekinetic powers, but it fails to capture that funny outrageous aspect of previous Disney comedies (Now You See Him,Now You Don't, etc.). The villain turns out to be a sneaky double agent played by Roddy McDowall, who catches on to the cat's abilities by spying on the heroes, but he reports to a higher up, some pompous dude named Mr. Olympus (William Prince), who operates out of a luxurious cave hideout. They're after the cat's collar. The heroes need to outwit both these villains and the military; the cat's ability to freeze people comes in very handy. Actors and script are weak; for example, the heroes give up on the football bets even though they might have still won. The whole subplot with grand villain Mr. Olympus reduces the story to grade school shenanigans, as if someone watched too many James Bond movies. In all, a promising first act is followed by a steady regression to banal nonsense. And, for the finale, the story for some reason went with a lengthy aerial sequence involving an old airplane and a helicopter. There's all this drama about the hero and his girl possibly falling to their deaths but the cat is right there and can levitate them easily enough - or so I believed.  Suspect  BoG's Score: 4 out of 10

Cat Trivia: actor Ronnie Schell had dual roles here - as an army sergeant and as the voice of Jake the cat.
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