(a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A cat is accidentally turned into a beautiful woman by a toxic waste accident. Minoes, now Miss Minoes, befriends a failing newspaper reporter and uses her network of cat friends to help get the reporter the news stories he needs. Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt's 1970 children's book MINOES is adapted for the screen by director Vincent Bal who also co-authored the screenplay. The result is a rather slight but pleasant family fantasy film. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

When a barrel of toxic waste is accidentally dropped off a truck and nearly hits a cat, the cat, Minoes, is somehow transformed into a beautiful woman (Carice van Houten). Minoes now looks like a woman and can most of the time behave as a woman, but her instincts are all feline. When frightened by a dog, she bounds up to the top branches of a tree without knowing how she will get down. To her rescue comes Tibbe (Theo Maassen), a reporter too timid to get his newspaper hard-hitting news stories. When they run into each other a second time they form a sort of partnership with Minoes finding news stories in return for food and a place to sleep. Minoes is not alone in the search. The neighborhood cats, at first wary of this human, form a bond with this fellow feline, and they bring all the news of the neighborhood to Tibbe--cat news and human news.

The 2001 Dutch film is dubbed acceptably if imperfectly into English for the current release. So while the character, human and feline, are speaking English, print is in Dutch. Tibbe may say what he is typing in English, but when we see his writing on a typewriter or in a newspaper it is in Dutch. Enough context is given so youngsters will know what is going on, even if they will be unable to read the writing. Unlike some children's films, this one does not attempt to appear to children to be taking place in the United States. It gives children some of the feel of ever day life in a mid-sized Dutch town.

The screenplay co-authored by director Vincent Bal with Tamara Bos and Burny Bos takes no unexpected turns much of the humor comes from Minoes's catlike behavior at inappropriate times. If in the middle of a public event someone is dangling their car keys, Minoes will be unable to resist the temptation to paw the keys. But Minoes with her cadre of cat reporters is able to save Tibbe's job and further is able to tell Tibbe some unexpected facts about a prominent local businessman--facts that maybe some of the people in town do not want to see revealed. It is of interest that the marvelous transformation of Minoes is never explained beyond saying the cat licked up some spilled chemicals.

MISS MINOES had a troubled journey to American screens since it was released in the Netherlands in December 2001 where it won the Dutch equivalent of the Academy Award. It won numerous awards at children's film festivals in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Egypt, and India. It had a small DVD release under the inferior title UNDERCOVER KITTY, a title that suggests exploitation of another talking cat film made the same year, CATS AND DOGS.

Though there is a little violence, it results in little more than a hurt paw and not enough to frighten even the youngest children. MISS MINOES is a simple, innocent story seated in Dutch village life, a charming holiday choice for family viewing. I rate the film a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

MISS MINOES opens December 23, 2011, at the Cinema Village in New York, the Music Box in Chicago, and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center in New York. Hopefully, it will get a home video release not long after.

Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0279231/

What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/miss_minoes/

					Mark R. Leeper
					Copyright 2011 Mark R. Leeper