Film Review: Miss Minoes

Winner of a dozen awards in eight countries, this 2001 Dutch children’s comedy-adventure about a cat turned human and the beleaguered cub reporter she assists in exposing the town’s villainous power broker will delight kids and parents alik

A purr-fect treat for the holidays, Miss Minoes, which became the most popular and honored film in Holland when it was released years ago, is a triple (maybe quadruple) threat. Kids will be enraptured by its enduring story of good conquering evil. Parents, too, will be enchanted, thanks also to the smart production and some wise, adult observations. Most vulnerable will be animal lovers of all ages, especially those inclined towards cats. Felines, whether mature or of the kitten variety, get their close-ups.

It also helps that the current generation has a bit of the ’60s sensibility. Abetting the human heroine and hero, these smart cats are like today’s crusading protesters in the 99% who rally for a good cause and pummel the wicked powers-that-be. The power in this case is one evil, hypocritical town power broker.

Starring Carice van Houten before her later art-house triumphs (Black Book, Valkyrie, etc.), Miss Minoes tells the story of the eponymous small-town cat who is victim of a speeding truck and its fallen container. Minoes re-emerges as human, first encountered by shy cub reporter Tibbe (Theo Maassen). He discovers her hiding in a tree. Dogs, understandably, terrify her.

Tibbe has his own troubles. He’s about to be fired as a journalist because he can’t find hard news and lacks the courage and gumption of a good newsman. When later he catches Minoes nosing around his apartment for food (fish is her favorite), they bond. She needs a home; he needs an assistant to help him nail those better stories. It’s a good match, as Minoes, even in her human incarnation, maintains close ties with her cat friends and these guys and gals really get around. With such great access, Minoes helps Tibbe land scoops and he holds onto his job.

But a big story brews. Mr. Ellemeet (Pierre Bokma), the town benefactor and newly appointed head of the Club for Friends of Animals, has secret plans to seize additional land to expand his thriving deodorant factory. Ellemeet is bad news who is ripe to become the news. He is not just disdainful of animals, he also flees accidents, habitually buries his cigarettes in potted-plant soil, and is, as the film shows and the cats discover, an all around rotter.

With the help of Tibbe’s nine-year-old neighbor Bibi (Sarah Bannier) and the essential snitching of many cats, Minoes and Tibbe go after Ellemeet—but not before he does his damage. It’s all great and often witty fun, thanks also to the special effects that integrate the cats into the plot. Other characters add color, plot reversals like the threat to a new litter of kittens add suspense and, in spite of Ellemeet’s way with a rifle, Miss Minoes is overwhelmingly feel-good.

No matter that the film is a decade old and dubbed. Its appeal and timeless values defy dating and the English dialogue flows beautifully and convincingly (unless you choose—and you won’t—to believe that under no circumstances can cats talk). That the film references older films (e.g., Disney fare, those playful Pink Panther-like credits, that Wizard of Oz message about finding the courage whthin, etc.) will further delight audiences of the parenting kind.