Milo & Otis

Wow. Watching The Adventures of Milo and Otis as an adult is a vastly different experience. Fiance and I noticed it on Netflix this morning, and since we’re still stalling on cleaning the house, turned it on.

I watched this movie a million times as a kid. It was right on par with My Neighbor Totoro and that National Geographic video about amazing animals (mostly I remember the Jesus Christ lizard, sprinting across water). I love animals, and without much contact with them in the real world (we just had birds, growing up), the videos were the next best thing. So I don’t know how many times I’ve watched Milo & Otis but it’s enough that I still have a lot of the narration memorized, at least ten years later.

What’s really amazing to me is that it never once occurred to me, in all the times I watched it, to think about the making of the movie. I just saw a dog and cat going on adventures. Now a simple Wikipedia search uncovers all these allegations of animal cruelty, which make SO MUCH SENSE because how else would they get all these crazy shots? As if the whole thing isn’t bad enough already, you read that the American version is super kosher compared to the original Japanese film it was made from. They had 70 extra hours of footage to play around with to make this cut. Including way more animal fight scenes, probably all as unfairly matched as a little pug dog versus a bear.

It’s amazing and unsettling, trying to reconcile how much I loved this movie as a kid with being so completely sad for all the exploited (and dead) animals. With the freak-out yesterday and taking Gabe to the vet just because he’s having difficulty peeing, I can’t imagine how much worse it would be to watch an animal die because humans put them in dangerous situations on purpose. We have a responsibility to the Earth and Her creatures, to do no harm. Collectively, we suck at it, but stuff like animal cruelty just shouldn’t happen, ever. It’s a no-brainer.

Picking up on the bro-mance of the movie, fiance said it reminds him of the plot of Brokeback Mountain (just with a happy ending). And seeing the live birth sequences of the dogs and cats, he said: “You watched this as a child? And you liked it?”

I did really like it. I watched it over and over again, probably more times than I’ve seen Happy Feet or Frozen (hard to top, since I wore out our Happy Feet DVD so much that we had to replace it). But now I feel about it the same way I feel about It Happened to Nancy. One of those creepy things that, as a kid, you consume and it’s the most normal thing ever. But then as a adult, realizing that you read a true story about a girl who dies of AIDS as punishment for being date-raped…and watched the dying moments of many innocent animals disguised as a feel-good happy tale, it kind of makes you nauseous.


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