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Film / The Cat from Outer Space

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In this 1978 Disney movie, a spaceship is stranded on Earth and impounded by the U.S. government. Its pilot, a cat-like alien named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7, or Jake for short, has a collar that has special powers, including the ability to allow Jake to communicate with humans. Jake has eluded the authorities and needs the help of a man named Frank in order to reclaim and repair his ship to get back home.

After Frank determines that they need gold in order to fix Jake's ship. Jake uses his collar's powers to affect the outcome of various sporting events, including horse races and pool games, to win money to buy the needed gold and repair his saucer. Frank, Frank's friend Norman Link and Frank's new girlfriend, Liz, help Jake find the gold he needs.

Unfortunately, another problem arises when Liz is kidnapped by billionaire Charles Olympus, who wants the power of Jake's collar. Frank, Jake, and Link must track down Liz and her kidnappers and rescue her.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Alien Among Us: Jake, aka Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7.
  • Alien Animals: The movie's title kinda gives this away.
  • Alien Catnip: The pool player's sandwich is able to revive an unconscious Jake just in the nick of time.
  • Aliens Love Human Food: Jake is quite a fan of the chopped kidney and tuna Frank provides him with, remarking that it's far superior than the food he gets on the mothership.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Jake uses his collar for telepathy, which presumably doesn't need translation. He does seem to understand spoken English without any problems though, possibly due to a kind of telepathic "translation".
  • Amusing Alien: Though Jake is more The Comically Serious at first, he quickly evolves into a Not So Above It All type.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Frank, a fanboy of "Science"!
  • Bad Boss: Charles Olympus, when he and his henchmen bail from their helicopter:
    Liz: Wait a minute, I haven't got a parachute!
    Olympus: Then you have a problem.
    Stallwood: I haven't got a parachute either!
    Olympus: Then you have the same problem.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Jake even becomes an official citizen of the United States by the end of the film.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Olympus and his lackeys. And let us not forget General Stilton and his men.
  • Captain Obvious: "Jake, in order to buy a hundred and twenty thousand dollars worth of gold, you need a hundred and twenty thousand dollars!"
  • Captured Super-Entity: Slightly subverted, Mr. Olympus wants Jake's collar, not Jake. Which is actually kinda stupid when you think about it. All the technical advancements Olympus could make by ''interrogating'' Jake. Instead, he just tries stealing some alien tech that's difficult for humans to use. Of course, just because Jake can use the collar doesn't mean he knows how to make it.
  • Cassandra Truth: Anyone who talks to General Stilton.
    • When Frank has the alien tech presented to him, he comes very close to unraveling the prevailing principle of its operation. General Stilton doesn't believe him, even though Jake later confirms that he was on the right track - albeit years from a breakthrough.
    • When Frank breaks into the Army base, Stilton is rather bemused that his men are making so much fuss over the intruder having brought a cat along.
    • Finally, General Stilton is informed by the forensics team that the alien spaceship's likely pilot is a cat. He's less than a second away from trashing the equipment when he remembers the intruder having a cat. Of course, this is rather academic, as the machine finally finishes processing all the fingerprints Frank left inside the ship, which has Stilton screaming about the techs focusing on the cat hairs.
  • Cats Are Magic: Well, super-evolved with superior alien technology, but same idea.
  • Cats Are Superior: And may also be aliens.
  • Cultural Posturing: Jake, but a very mild case.
  • Delegation Relay: The Army officers, led by Harry Morgan, who chased Jake and Frank around fall into this running gag several times during the movie.
    General Stilton: (gives a command) Colonel!
    Colonel: Captain!
    Captain: Sergeant!
    Sergeant: Yes sir!
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Mr. Olympus.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Jake, as weird as it sounds.
  • Evolutionary Levels: Jake tells Frank that the reason his people are cats is that on his planet, "that's as far as we needed to evolve."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • If you sat down to watch a movie called "The Cat From Outer Space" and expected something else, prepare to be disappointed.
    • In Universe, there's a regular at Ernie's pool hall named "Honest Harry". Despite sounding like a crook's name, and despite the pool hall being a haven for hustlers and gamblers, it seems Harry actually has built a reputation for being unfailingly honest, and is often the guy holding onto the money temporarily when a bet is made or otherwise acting as a neutral third party.
  • Expy: Mr. Olympus and his henchmen are obviously supposed to be like James Bond villains.
  • First Contact: With humans and... Space Cats?
  • The Gambling Addict: Frank's buddy Link appears to be a mild one. He likes his football bets and horse races, and he's the one who leads Frank and Jake to the pool hall where they try to win enough money to buy gold for Jake's ship.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Looking exactly like a normal cat has its advantages.
  • Horny Sailors: Alluded to when Jake says he wants to spend some time with Lucy-Belle, as he's been stuck on his ship for a while.
    Jake: Her [Liz's] kitty-cat's not too bad either.
    Frank: (amused) There's plenty of time for that.
    Jake: That's all right for you to say! But I've been confined to a spaceship for five months.
  • I Choose to Stay: Jake eventually decides that he likes Frank and the other humans too much to leave them.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The spare collar Frank uses during the film.
  • Informed Ability: Liz at one point claims to be a blackbelt. This never comes up again nor does Liz ever demonstrate such skill (though to be fair, in the few cases where she was engaged with the antagonists she was either being held at gunpoint or stuck in a cramped helicopter with people carrying guns, so she never really has an opening).
  • Innocent Aliens: Jake's cat-race.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Jake and the other alien cats aren't all that interested in Earth. He just had to make an emergency landing there.
  • Inspector Javert: It's easy not to like General Stilton, but he really isn't a bad man or even a bad soldier - he just wound up with a bad situation that had to be handled. When he finally does get the full explanation of what's going on, he proves surprisingly reasonable. At the end of the movie, he does help Jake make a deal with the President.
  • Just Plane Wrong: There's nothing in an Aérospatiale Gazelle anywhere near where Stallwood fires his flare gun that would cause the controls to lock up.
  • Little Stowaway: Jake.
  • Manchild: Several of the military characters at various points, but particularly the colonel. "It is a pussycat!"
  • Moral Myopia: While there is the justification of Jake being in a time crunch to get his ship working again lest he be stranded on Earth, neither he nor any of his human allies display much if any reluctance over him flagrantly cheating at several sporting events in order to gain the necessary funds via gambling payouts.
  • The Mothership: Whose pilot apparently is also a cat.
  • Oh, Crap!: Stallwood has one of these moments when Mr. Olympus tells him it would not be wise to let Liz live. He appears to have genuinely believed up to that point that his employer was a man of his word.
  • Pair the Spares: Unusually, the protagonist Jake and his love interest Lucybelle are animals, and it's the spares (Frank and Liz) who are human.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Frank is able to pass as General Stilton simply by wearing his uniform and putting on sunglasses. Downplayed in that he doesn't look that dissimilar from Stilton, and the guard on duty is initially uncertain of his identity, but Frank does a good enough vocal and personality impression that the guard is quickly cowed.
  • Parachute in a Tree: What happens to Mr. Olympus and his henchmen. Hanging off the edge of a cliff, for that matter.
  • Psychic Powers: Jake, naturally. Or his collar, at least. Jake's very skilled in its use, but Frank is able to use one to fly around, make pool balls repeatedly ricochet clear across a room, and even access computers.
  • Red Scare: Near the beginning of the movie, General Stilton assumes Jake's ship is a Soviet one.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": The titular cat's name is Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7, but the human that the cat stays with decides to call him Jake.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Played with realistically and fictitiously by both the military and the villains.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: A mild case with Link - he has a habit of casually coming over to Frank's apartment without notice to use his TV to watch sports games he's bet on, avail himself to any beer Frank has in the fridge (which he notes that Frank keeps running out of for some reason), and fail to take Frank's hints that he's kind of busy. The first time this happens Jake ends up using his powers to win Link his bet just to get rid of him.
  • Translator Collar: Jake's collar.
  • Unobtainium: Jake's ship runs on an element called "Org-12". In an aversion, Frank figures out it's gold based on its atomic weight.
  • The Worm Guy: Frank was not initially invited to inspect the "artichoke" from Jake's spaceship, as his speciality was very specific and the head of the institute said he wasn't sure Frank was worth being there, but Frank is the only one who was close to an answer. Jake told him later he (Frank) was on the right track, but still years from a discovery.
    • Of course, Frank's friend and fellow scientist Link specialized in garbage...yet somehow he was one among those initially invited.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: "Org-12" (gold) is clearly a rather common metal on Jake's planet, because they use it as a spaceship component. Frank has to explain to him how expensive it is on Earth.
  • You Can Talk?: Frank's response when Jake first reveals his telepathy:
    Frank: You? That's you?
    Jake: It's not the mouse.
    Frank: But your lips aren't moving! You're not... speaking.
    Jake: Thought transference. Nothing exceptional where I come from.