It’s unfortunate for Miss Minoes, and a reflection on Hollywood’s remake-happy nature, be it old or foreign films that I can’t help thinking what an American version would look like. Admittedly, it’s a fun game, as long as this review isn’t picked up by those executive types.
Miss Minoes starts out as a cat in the town of Killendoorn who sees a blue van at night that accidentally sheds one of its chemical drums in the back. The drum rolls to a tree and stops and Miss Minoes goes to it to investigate, biting off the stopper, and that’s all we see in that moment.
Next is Tibbe (Theo Maasen), a bad reporter who does not know how to find a story, whose editor-in-chief gives him one more chance to find a newsworthy story, or else he’s fired. For an American remake, you’ve got to have someone who looks like he could take out a few traffic lights with his fists, as Theo Maasen does, but also looks like a convincing writer. Vinnie Jones comes to mind, but that’s too much muscle. The Rock is possible, if he could be believable as a journalist, but would he really want yet another kids’ movie?
Walking out of the newspaper office and down the street, Tibbe spots a woman in a tree who says that she always jumps into a tree whenever she sees a dog. This is Miss Minoes (Carice van Houten). This is the result of whatever was in that chemical drum, one prong of the mystery that’s meant to keep interest, but is a hard task when the rest of the movie up to the climax is slowgoing.
Without a doubt, in an American remake, Miss Minoes would be played by Amy Adams. She’s got the look for it, could easily adapt to cat-like mannerisms, and could talk to her cat brethren, who all have human voices. Her Auntie Moor, a regal white cat, would be a perfect quick paycheck for Judi Dench, to add class.
Tibbe has a little-girl neighbor named Bibi (Sarah Bannier), whose only purpose is to give the intended demographic someone to relate to. Watching her, I thought of Nina (Ellie Raab) in The Fabulous Baker Boys, who only appears in a few scenes, but belongs because she’s part of the daily life of pianist Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges), something different from everything else he does. Bibi’s just…..there, probably as a way to keep Tibbe’s spirits up in his pursuit of stories, but still just a hook for the demographic.
The central plot of Miss Minoes involves Ellemeet (Pierre Bokma), a deodorant factory mogul with plans to expand his factory in the town, who agreeably takes on the chairmanship of a local pet lovers’ organization, who turns out to hate pets and basically be a nasty hypocrite. This is the perfect role for Kyle MacLachlan, if he finds it a decent paycheck and doesn’t believe himself to be above his role as villain Cliff Vandercave in the very trying The Flintstones. The entire town is enamored with Ellemeet, seeing him as a benefactor who could add much good to the town, but Miss Minoes and her cat news service, which supplies Tibbe with news tips, knows better. For one, an abandoned caravan at the edge of where Ellemeet intends to expand his factory is home to Jakkepoes and her kittens, and once Mayor van Weezel (Jack Wouterse, who isn’t so much a weasel, as he is too easily led and charmed) is out of view, he wraps the kittens up in a sack and drops them in a metal dumpster in an alley, which is at risk of being dumped into a crushing-gear garbage truck. So Miss Minoes calls upon other cats to help her and Bibi stop the garbage man from putting that dumpster on the truck, to be tipped into it.
This is pretty much all there is. We go from roof to apartment to roof to apartment to roof to apartment to roof to apartment. Repeat that a few more times, and it’s why Miss Minoes is taxing. The chemicals that caused Miss Minoes to become human remain unknown until the end of the movie, and then it’s written off in one line of dialogue. We never know the makeup of those chemicals, but being that this is a kids movie, it would never delve into that. And the expected downfall of Ellemeet (no villain ever wins in a kids movie) is all too predictable once we see what will be part of the meeting on the referendum to allow Ellemeet to expand his deodorant factory. The climax is predictably exciting, almost making one forget about slogging through the previous 78 minutes, but it’s not enough to make the memory of that boredom disappear.
The DVD, from Music Box Films, contains a little over one minute of “kitty bloopers,” during production, and a theatrical trailer, as well as three options to watch the movie: You can watch the English language dub, or the original Dutch with English subtitles, or the Spanish dub. This ranks as a minor release among Music Box Films’ other offerings, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as it was before the American remake, and other noteworthy foreign films, including Potiche (Trophy Wife), starring Catherine Deneuve.
Miss Minoes was first released in the Netherlands in 2001, having been based on an apparently celebrated children’s novel there. If Hollywood had latched onto this right then, or in 2002 or 2003, that would be understandable. But it’s 2012, and Miss Minoes is long past the sell-by date, which is a relief, because that’s one trailer I would not want to see in theaters. Best that Miss Minoes remains as it was, even though it would have been marginally interesting to see Amy Adams acting like a cat.