The Five-Year-Old Goes to the Movies: The Cat From Outer Space

Cover of "The Cat From Outer Space"

Cover of The Cat From Outer Space

The Cat From Outer Space (1978)
Directed by: Norman Tokar
Written by: Ted Key
Starring: Ken Berry, Sandy Duncan, Harry Morgan, Roddy McDowell, and McLean Stevenson (See full cast and crew on IMDb)

On Father’s Day weekend, my husband asked The Five-Year-Old if she would like to watch his favorite movie from when he was just a Five-Year-Old.

Naturally she did, so he hunted down The Cat From Outer Space, courtesy of Netflix.

For those of you who, like me, missed this classic fantasy epic when it was first released in 1978, The Cat From Outer Space begins with the discovery of a UFO on a farm out in rural America somewhere. The UFO has been damaged in flight, but before the cat piloting it, SonarJ5amillion (aka Jake), can use his extraordinarily blingy glowing collar to fix it, the army arrives, and the UFO is carted away for study. Jake follows the army to a scientific laboratory where he meets Dr. Frank Wilson, an off-the-wall but brilliant scientist whom Jake feels might just be intelligent enough to help him.

The usual ensemble of misunderstandings, campy spies, and vintage 1970s special effects ensues. But in my opinion what makes this movie spectacular is The Five-Year-Old’s reaction on seeing the scientists huddle around a massive state of the art 1978-era mainframe computer as they try to figure out what sort of a being piloted the ship to Earth.

One hates to violate film industry copyright by showing the actual clip from the film, so you’ll have to work with me here. Picture Harry Morgan and other military and scientific types crowded together in some sort of van, peering at a dark screen covered in green courier text mounted on a computing ensemble something like this. (Photo: Lawrence Livermore National Library)

Mommyo, informatively: “The Five-Year-Old, can you believe that computers used to be that big?”

The Five-Year-Old, dubiously: “No!”

Daddyo, helpfully: “That computer they are working on has less power than the iPhone. Isn’t that amazing?”

The Five-Year-Old, emphatically: “Good grief, that’s unamazing!”

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Funny Stuff My Daughter Says, Reviews: Other and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Five-Year-Old Goes to the Movies: The Cat From Outer Space

  1. S. Lane says:

    Back when this movie came out, my father was drafted into taking his 3 oldest grandchildren to see it…he said it was the worst movie he had ever seen, but the kids, now grown with children of their own , remember the day fondly.


  2. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday: The Seven-Year-Old takes Canelo to the movies | CATERPICKLES

  3. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday: The Eight-Year-Old from outer space | CATERPICKLES

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