The Adventures and Milo and Otis
March 3, 2012
NChick: D'oh! (chuckles) I never get tired of watching that baby panda sneeze... You know, there really is nothing quite like watching cute animal videos on YouTube. And by that, of course, I mean no better complete waste of time.
A video of a baby kitten is shown.
NChick: Nowadays when you watch Animal Planet, it's pretty obvious that this network has realized what its main competition is.
A video of a person coaching a dog is shown.
NChick: Now that is pretty hard to compete with. But it's not like demand for cute animal videos is a new thing.
A video is shown of someone rubbing a dog's stomach while making a weird noise.
NChick: After all, it is kind of difficult to predict when an animal is going to do something cute. And besides, you have to have a camera on hand.
She stares at her dog, who yawns.
NChick: Of course, in the event that you do have the camera on hand and the lights are already set up, the animal can of course be forced into cuteness...
She looks at her dog again, and the dog looks at her. Several back-and-forth shots are shown before the next shot shows Lindsay holding her dog.
NChick: (singing and pretending to be the dog) I'm a puppy-dog and I'm OK;
I eat all night and I sleep all day.
"I'm the prettiest princess at the ball! Oh yes I am!"
She then sets her dog down.
NChick: "Inconsiderate", perhaps. "Animal cruelty", probably not.
A title card is shown for...
NChick (VO): Such is the case of The Adventures of Milo and Otis, a film which straddles the border between "Discovery Channel footage of animals that has been narrated over" and "animals being forced into questionable situations"... being narrated over.
NChick: Which I guess is fine if you hate cats, which, you know, makes perfect sense, I mean, what's to like about cats?
A video is shown of a cat.
NChick (VO): They're like the animal-fication of those bitches at the office who talk about you behind your back.
NChick: But does that make filming something like, for instance, this okay?
Milo is shown falling from a dangerously high cliff into the ocean below.
NChick: ...Well, with that in mind, let's throw ourselves right in! (nervously) Get it?
Several scenes from "A Kitten's Story" are shown.
NChick (VO): In August of 1989, Columbia Pictures released The Adventures of Milo and Otis, an American recut of the enormously popular Japanese film A Kitten's Story: The Adventures of Chatran. While the Milo and Otis edit was a folksy, adorable jont with a keen eye on children under the age of 10, "Chatran" was more akin to, say, a Terrence Malick movie than a Disney movie. It was kind of an artsy mood piece with a cheap-o, inya light music, and abstract Japanese poetry sprinkled throughout...
Narrator: The river flows to eternity, chattering with the grass on the ban.
NChick (VO): Yeah, maybe this makes sense in Japanese. Either way, both cuts come off as someone having shot hundreds of hours of footage of animals and then cobbling it together into something that looked like a plot.
NChick: Though some of the situations that the animals find themselves in seem quite deliberate, and likely could not have happened without human intervention. Situations such as...
Various clips are shown, describing what Lindsay says.
NChick (VO): Cat in a box on a river... cat in a box going over a waterfall... cat being thrown off a cliff... pug vs. bear... bear chasing cat up a tree... bear biting a cat's foot... flock of seagulls attacking a kitten... bear in any scene with any animal smaller than bear... and of course... cat being thrown off a cliff.
The clip of Milo falling is shown again, and 2 arrows point to jagged sea rocks, with a caption that says "F*&@KING ROCKS".
NChick: So it's no wonder that even before the English cut/dub, Japanese humane groups were voicing... concern. To quote one article from The Economist...
The clip of Milo falling is once more. Text from the article is shown, saying... "It's hard to see how he survived. Indeed, according to Japan's biggest animal-rights group, he did not. Or, to be accurate, a third of the Chatrans used did not." - The Economist, London, 1986.
NChick: ..."It's hard to see how he survived. Indeed, according to Japan's biggest animal-rights group, he did not. Or, to be accurate, a third of the Chatrans used did not."
NChick is shown smiling broadly with her arms outstretched, shrugging.
She then picks up her dog and repeats the song from before.
NChick: (singing and pretending to be the dog) I'm a puppy-dog and I'm OK;
I eat all night and I sleep all day.
Clips from the movie are shown.
NChick (VO): Though there was a substantial recut for Columbia's American release, the two basic premises of the film are basically the same. It's about a farm cat named Chatran, or Milo, and his friend, uh... Poosky, or Otis, who has a beefed-up part in the American version. Milo one day, while playing hide-and-seek, jumps into a wooden box, which then carries him downstream and away from his faithful friend, Otis, who follows him in an attempt to rescue him. The majority of the film is Milo and Otis's doings, while trying to find each other out in the wilderness, narrated by Dudley Moore doing his best... Dudley Moore, and featuring the score from Organ Trail 2.
Otis: (singing) Here comes the dog, your life he--- OH!
Otis falls into a grassy hole, which he then climbs out of.
Narrator: He then decided to skip the whole thing.
NChick (VO): Most of the film is innocent enough, I guess... Apparently the director/writer was a zoologist who owned the farm and most of the animals used in it. And some of the only official statistics about the film's production is that it took over 400,000 feet of film to shoot over a 4-year period. And it used about 30 kittens...
A scene is shown of Milo hiding in a tree, before cutting to several clips defining animal rights and animal welfare.
NChick (VO): Let us first distinguish between the animal rights people and the animal welfare people, and these are the folks that are more likely to advocate for animal personhood and giving them the right to vote. Animal welfare people have varying degrees of morality, and whether euthanasia is ethical, etc., but their basic deal is doing things humanely.
NChick: I think it was W.C. Fields that said "Never work with children or animals". And in countries with big film industries, that has less to do with the subjects being uncooperative and more to do with union rules and laws.
A woman is shown in an interview about animal rights.
Karen Rosa: American Humane Association and Hollywood have a very long relationship.
Several newsreels about the American Humane Association are shown.
NChick: The Humane Society of America might be looked at as yet another guild in the American film production world.
Commentator: American Humane Association's film and TV unit has exclusive on-set jurisdiction from the Screen Actors Guild to supervise the use of animals.
NChick: In order to use a child, for instance, you have to have on set what is called a licensed (uses her fingers as air quotes) "Studio Teacher" in order to chaperone the child and make sure that filmmakers do not do anything untoward with the child.
More videos about the American Humane Association are shown. In addition, the "No animals were harmed" text is shown as well.
NChick (VO): The same applies to animals, who also require a chaperone on film sets. And that's why at the end of the film, you'll see a stamp from the Humane Society: "No animals were harmed during the making of this production."
Milo and Otis's end credits are shown.
NChick (VO): In Milo and Otis, all we get is this.
Text reads: "The animals were filmed under strict supervision with the utmost concern for their handling."
NChick (VO): Nothing from the Humane Group, Japanese or otherwise, and certainly nothing to the tune of "No animals were harmed".
More videos about the American Human Association are shown.
NChick (VO): This is why, due to insurance requirements and all-around safety regulations by the guilds, you'd never see an American production getting away with something like this.
The clip of Milo falling is shown again.
NChick (VO): Or this little gem which got cut out of the American cut.
Chatran is shown climbing a cliff face before slipping and falling into the ocean with a loud, audible thud. He climbs again and falls again.
NChick: Point is that these rules are now in place, 'cause someone did something stupid in order to get a shot.
Karen Rosa is shown again.
Karen Rosa: Formal relationship, really, was triggered by, uh, the 1939 film Jesse James. In that film, a horse was plummeted 70 feet off a cliff, and the horse broke its back.
NChick (VO): This is why we can't have "nice things".
NChick: And I really am sorry if I'm ruining anybody's childhood here, but... actually, no. No, I'm not, that's my job.
Clips from the movie are shown.
NChick (VO): The beginning of the film, the bits on the farm are the most aimless. Overall, the film has a pointless, improvised feel. It lacks the sophistication of, uh, Babe... it sounds like the late Dudley Moore is improvising America's Funniest Home Videos-style.
Narrator: The noise attracted a group of local snoops looking to dig up some scandal.
NChick (VO): (as the narrator) We have this cute cat footage and damn it, we're gonna use it! (normal) The animals have much more well-defined personalities in the American cut as well. Otis is the serious, stuffy one and Milo is the curious troublemaker, including one scene shot and added for the American release that features the cat and the dog taking care of a chicken egg. (makes a cute noise) There's some iffy stuff towards the beginning, and you have to wonder what was... Discovery-Channel-Cinéma-vérité-style footage of animals doing animal things and how much of it was the filmmakers putting the animals in untoward situations.
A crab is shown pinching Milo's nose with its claw.
NChick (VO): Like, who put that crab there? Oh, who cares? Sometimes a cat's got to learn a valuable lesson too. It's not until Milo gets in the box that floats down the river that things start to get... uncomfortable.
Narrator: "This will be fun!" Milo shouted.
NChick (VO): (sarcastic) Yeah, that cat looks thrilled to be in that box.
A scene with Otis attacking a black bear is shown.
NChick (VO): But then they go and throw in a bear in the mix. And then a pug.
NChick: Let's talk about pugs for a moment.
A few videos and photos of dogs are shown.
NChick (VO): Each breed of dog was bred for a purpose, leaving some dogs to have sharpened instincts, in such areas as guardianship, hunting, or tracking.
A few videos of pugs are shown.
NChick (VO): Pugs are not only a breed of dog born with little to no muzzle, they're also born without dignity.
A video shows a pug dressed as a unicorn.
Man: (whispering) In the backyard we found a... unicorn.
A video of a pug stuck in a toilet is shown.
NChick (VO): Any wolf-like instincts dullen to the point of practical non-existence.
NChick: In short, a pug is barely a dog. (looks at her dog) Right, puppy? I know you're not a pug.
Lindsey kisses her dog. A video is shown of a pug on a sofa.
NChick (VO): And you put this dog...
NChick: ...against a bear.
The scene of Otis and the black bear is shown.
NChick (VO): "Oh," you might be thinking, "that bear is clearly a baby bear! And they're just kind of... playing."
NChick: ...would you like to take a look at the footage that was cut out of the American release?
The extended scene is shown, with the bear trying to eat Otis's head.
NChick (VO): Bear vs. Pug...
Photos show the dogs she mentions.
NChick (VO): Not a Malamute... Not a Pit Bull...
The scene is shown again.
NChick (VO): A Pug.
Milo is shown riding a box over a waterfall.
NChick (VO): Also, cat goes over the waterfall.
The waterfall scene from Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey is shown.
NChick (VO): Pretty sure when they did that in Homeward Bound, it wasn't a real cat.
NChick: There were also allegations that a producer broke a kitten's foot in order to make it appear unsteady on its feet.
Clips from the American and Japanese versions are shown.
NChick (VO): Nothing suspicious in the American cut. What could they be referring to?
The clip of Milo limping is shown.
NChick (VO): Oh, there it is... in the original Japanese cut.
Narrator: How miserable! He could cry.
NChick: And if you're wondering why I'm kinda focusing on the "animal cruelty" stuff instead of anything else, well, aside from that being a lot more interesting and relevant, there's not really much else to say about it content-wise.
NChick (VO): It really is just a bunch of YouTube videos strung together with narration.
A scene shows Otis riding a turtle to safety.
NChick (VO): Although this scene with a pug riding a turtle kind of makes it all worth it. PUG ON A TURTLE!
Turtle: Now just stay on the shore where you belong.
NChick (VO): That's not how turtles talk; turtles are laid-back and cool.
A clip from Finding Nemo is shown.
Crush: Whoa, dude. "Mr. Turtle" was my father. Name's Crush.
NChick (VO): Most of the stuff that was cut from the American release was cut for being too violent or scary. Though some of the stuff they got cut surprised me.
A scene shows a Milo riding a horse.
NChick (VO): Like this shot of a kitten riding a horse. This is not only innocent, but appealing to kids. What's better than a kitten? A kitten riding a horse. Certainly better than...
A scene shows Milo being mobbed by seagulls.
NChick (VO): ...a kitten being attacked by seagulls. Which is a bad enough situation for filmmakers to put a cat in.
The scene of Milo falling is shown one more time.
NChick (VO): Well, until this next shot.
Milo: You have no idea what I've been through; bears, snakes--
NChick (VO): (as Milo) Seven other cats! (normal) Also, did they compose the score on Mario Paint?
Weird music is heard.
NChick (VO): Almost immediately after Milo and Otis reunite, guess what happens?
Narrator: They ran to the cat cries, and Milo was suddenly breathless.
NChick (VO): (as Milo) Oh, no, not a woman. Ruining our perfect bro-mance? NOOOOOO! (normal) Was this a thing before Yoko Ono ruined the world? Because it sure is a thing now.
NChick: (shaking her fist) WOMAN!
NChick (VO): Oh, but don't worry, Otis eventually gets the love that Milo feels when, while wondering into the freezing snowy wilderness, he also runs into a... pure-bred pug lady with an equally bitchy accent.
Otis: I've never met a dog like you, Sandra.
Sondra: No, "Sondra". It's a French pronunciation.
Otis: She's smart, too.
NChick (VO): The woman also gives the doggy and the kitty progeny. Which had a couple of shots that, to my memory, were definitely edited out of the TV edits. Yeah, I might have grown up with the TV edit. Oddly absent in the Japanese cut is Otis's also pure-bred pug-love children. And anything resembling a resolution, for that matter.
Narrator: Milo and Otis led the way down the road. The road that would take them to the place where their lives had begun.
NChick (VO): Not very well thought out, but when you just shoot whatever and then throw a voice-over on top of it, well, guess that's what you get.
NChick: When the American Humane Society, upon the film's initial release, took it upon themselves to actually investigate what went on during this production - cats being thrown off cliffs, being attacked by other animals, etc. - the investigation eventually turned up... nothing.
NChick (VO): Of course, the filmmakers deny that there were any untoward doings, but, at this point, there was no way to prove it. So, much of the speculation on just how many kittens died during the filming is just that: speculation. So while there is probably some footage out there - the kitten smacking those rocks or that bear seriously hurting that pug - at this point, there really is no way to prove how many animals went down during the making of this film.
NChick: Which brings me to a couple of preliminary opinions that I'd heard before the review came out, like "No, please, be nice to this movie, I loved it when I was a kid," like, yeah, you know what, I did, too, all right? It had cute animals in it.
NChick (VO): But even in the unlikely event that no animals were harmed or killed in the making of this film, it's horribly... what's the term? F**ked up for the filmmakers to be putting these animals in these situations in the first place.
Several brutal scenes from the movie are shown. Lindsey holds up her dog one last time.
NChick: (pretending to be the dog) 40 years ago, Rosa Parks fought for the freedom of puppies everywhere...
A caption reads "Written and Edited by Lindsey Ellis; Bumper Art by Andrew Dickman (andrewdickman.deviantart.com); Look at the cute animal to distract from the cute animals..."
NChick: (looking at her dog) You got the hiccups?
Lindsay turns to the camera and laughs.