The question about most children's movies is not whether they are beneficial for children or harmful - most are neither. The question is whether parking a child at the film while you shop is better or worse than letting the child roam through the shopping mall.

"The Cat from Outer Space" is about the same as a look around the toy and gift shops in a mall would be: full of junky cliches, but probably mildly intriguing to all but the most sophisticated children.

Walt Disney Production has always known how to latch onto a single idea and film it over and over again. The cat and mouse idea, after all, lasted for decades and isn't finished yet. For its real actors films, the idea is still the smart animal, but combined with a few space fantasy things such as the evil person who wants to take over the universe, the use of mind power for levitation and for opening locks without touching them, and the good scientist who wants to capture psychic power "to solve half the problems on this planet"

This galaxy of futuristic truisms, last seen in the last Disney film, "Return from Witch Mountain." returns with "The Cat from Outer Space." The hero is a cat that does no tricks whatsover: you are supposed to understand that when its collar lights up, it is exercising psychic power, and accept that the reason its lips don't move when it talks is that comes from a civilization that has advanced beyond such physical efforts.

The object, in this firm, is "to tap the primal mainstream," which is Star Wars talk for levitation and other magic. Every time a human character asks the cat to explain what is going on, the cat replies "No time - I'll explain that later," and never does. So the humans are left with job of hanging admiringly around the cat exclaiming, "Unbelievable!"

This is not exactly inspiring material, but itis harmless enough - unless the child expects you to sit through it with him.