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The Rabbi's Cat Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 70

    out of 100


    This feature-length 3D adaptation of Sfar's comicbook series shares many of the same virtues and problems of his solo, live-action helming debut, the biopic "Gainsbourg," in that it is often colorful, witty and inspired, but also too episodic, and lacks a strong ending.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times

    It's a wild and vivid ride and a spirited reminder of the kinship between Jewish and Arab cultural traditions.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Village Voice

    An absorbing, nuanced, and vividly animated tale of adventure, ambivalent morality, colonial injustice, talking animals, and the vagaries of religious zeal and colonialism.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The New York Times Jeannette Catsoulis

    The film presents an often sharp commentary on dueling beliefs and idiocies that unfolds in lush pastel hues and distinctively retro drawings.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Though this gorgeously animated affair showcases the artist's freewheeling style and colorful arabesque imagery, its rambling episodic structure is not quite the cat's meow, even if it remains a thoroughly enjoyable take on Judaism in early 20th century North Africa.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Fascinating, clever animated tale not meant for young kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Rabbi's Cat is a subtitled animated film based on books by acclaimed French graphic artist Joann Sfar that delve into the little-known history of Jews in pre-World War II Algeria. With mature themes including faith, family, philosophy, anti-Semitism, and racism, this isn't a light cartoon appropriate for younger kids. There's kissing, implied sex, violence, alcohol, and smoking. The violence -- including two murders and a brief sequence of a pogrom -- results from differences in culture and faith, and the sexuality includes shots of a bare-shouldered, bare-backed couple in bed and kissing passionately.

  • Families can talk about what the cat teaches the rabbi and what the rabbi teaches the cat. How do they change each other's lives?
  • Even though the movie is about a cat, is it meant for/appropriate for young children? Do animated movies have to be targeted at young audiences?
  • What are The Rabbi's Cat's messages about race and religion? Is the historical context of the movie -- pre-WWII, French colonial Algeria -- confusing for those who aren't familiar with it? How could you find out more?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: The Rabbi's Cat explores themes of religion and philosophy and why people should attempt to coexist in peace while respecting one another's personal differences in beliefs and politics.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: The rabbi adheres to Jewish law but considers many other perspectives as well. He respects his distant cousin who's a Muslim, and he's willing to teach his talking cat about Judaism, even though his mentor and rabbi tells him it's a bad idea. Zlabya is a strong female character, as is the Russian's African wife, both of whom state their mind with conviction. The Sfar cousin, like the rabbi, is open minded and abhors violence for violence's sake.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: After a lot of threatening looks and words, the Russian fights a Muslim to the death with a gun and swords and then is killed himself. Viewers see animated blood pooling around the dead bodies. There are a few fist fights and close calls during a difficult journey, and a cat kills and eats mice, a parrot, and other birds. A Russian pogrom is depicted in a more cartoonish style than the rest of the animated film, but some of the scenes are still violent.

  • sex false3

    Sex: The rabbi's beautiful daughter is voluptuous and wears a traditional, midriff-baring Algerian outfit. The cat mentions how much he loves to nuzzle against her breast. An attractive young couple flirts and spends the night together. The woman is shown bare-backed and then in bed, where it's obvious the couple has had sex. They kiss passionately a few times, get married, and expect a baby.

  • language false2

    Language: Subtitled strong language includes insults like "idiot," "stupid," "devil," and "Satan," plus "bulls--t," "asses," and "go to hell."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: A Citroen jeep is featured.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink wine and vodka, and one sequence in which a Russian gets notably drunk leads to his offensive behavior and eventual death. Several characters smoke hookahs.