Miss Minoes (also known as Undercover Kitty) is an award winning children’s Dutch film about a cat who laps up toxic waste and becomes a human. Since most living beings who encounter toxic waste die, get boils or have a really bad day, if there was toxic waste out there that transmogrified animals into cute animal-like people, somebody would bottle and sell it. I would hate to think what happened to any worms that encountered this buried goo. Perhaps they work now in politics.
For the sake of this story, however, we will assume that Miss Minoes (played by the coquette Carice van Houten) was a lone lucky miracle that helped save the day. Before you roll your eyes further, you should know that the bad guy of the movie is an evil factory owner who illegally dumps toxic waste while also heading up town committees and is known for his charity towards animals. It’s up to Miss Minoes to expose him for the dastardly villain he is.
All of that is true, and I still enjoyed the movie.
Before we meet Miss Minoes in human form, local journalist Tibbe has been given notice that he is to come up with better stories or he’ll get the boot. Tibbe comes home and discovers a fetchingly beautiful girl wearing a cute green outfit and carrying a matching suitcase trapped in a tree. Lending aide to Miss Minoes is the best thing Tibbe could have done. Miss Minoes is connected to the cats of the town and can give him the greatest leads, from buried treasure to the juiciest town gossip. Although Tibbe is slow to believe Miss Minoes’s true nature at first, watching her catlike antics convinces him.
Slowly, Tibbe’s successful stories draw him closer and closer to the factory owner, but despite all of Miss Minoes help, Tibbe just cannot bring himself to believe that the town hero is a villain who hurts cats. This conflict must be resolved if Tibbe is to remain friends with Miss Minoes and expose the truth about factory owner.
Tibbe is an awkward, gulumphing guy. He’s friendly to cats and children, but uncomfortable in the adult world until Miss Minoes comes along. With her help he becomes almost popular, but is afraid to stand by Miss Minoes when it might jeopardize his new standing. What sells the show is the performance by Carice van Houten who is adorable in the role. She has just enough cat-like antics to make it believable without it being over the top.
The scene where Tibbe fights with her to get a mouse out of her mouth or when the fishmonger’s cart is overturned and she is more interested in the fish than the owner make her seem very catlike indeed. She, too, changes during the story, however. As much as she loves her cat heritage and her evenings spent caterwauling on rooftops, she must choose between the human world and the one she came from.
Although much of the supporting cast seems made of stereotypes and flat characters, Tibbe, Miss Minoes, and Bibi, the neighbor girl who is Tibbe’s only friend, give endearing performances. The story is not so much about justice as it is about self-identity, self-confidence, and doing the right thing. With talking cats, a cute cat-like human, and animal antics aplenty, Miss Minoes has a lot to delight and entertain.
I enjoyed watching the budding romance between Tibbe and Miss Minoes develop. In fact, this charming story is marred only by an overly simplistic villain and a lone s-word uttered by Bibi at the end of the movie. As such, I wouldn’t recommend Miss Minoes for younger children but for preteens and teens. Well, and people like me who are children at heart.
Release Date: December 6, 2001 (The Netherlands)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking, cigar smoking)
Language: 1 (one s-bomb)
Sexuality: 1 (underdeveloped romance between a cat girl & her man)
Violence: 1 (car accidents, implied animal cruelty)