Cats & Dogs
Directed by Lawrence Guterman
Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I don't consider myself a sucker for talking animals. Yes, I loved Babe, but I didn't see the sequel; I am staying away from Dr. Dolittle 2 [fine, ignore my recommendation --Ed.], and I have grown to detest the Taco Bell commercials, but I found the talking animals of Cats & Dogs fully entertaining. It's the humans that drag the movie down.
Apparently humans have always been the lesser species. They are protected by highly technically advanced dogs from maniacal cats who are determined to gain control of world. This feud has been going on since ancient Egypt when dogs first rescued the humans from cat domination. The fate of the human and dog world now rests in the paws of Lou (voiced by Tobey Maguire) who with the help of Butch (Alec Baldwin) must guard the Brody household where Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum) is working on an anti-dog-allergy formula. The cats, lead by the feline fascist Mr. Tinkles, want to steal the formula for their own nefarious ends.
Overall the puppeteering and animation are quite good and fun -- particularly the cats. The dogs are not as humorously used and some of their movements are clunky. Mostly the big laughs come from the lines rather than the slapstick smacking of animated and animatronic animals -- although the cat ninja and the Russian blue are a hoot. Mr. Tinkles (brilliantly voiced by Sean Hayes, who plays Jack on "Will and Grace") gets a whole bunch of quippy one-liners and great scenes. The dogs are more the straight men than the joke-filled cat characters, but their serious secret agent and coming-to-age puppy plots are well done. Susan Sarandon lends her beautiful voice to the role of Ivy, an ex-agent and ex-love of Butch, a character that manages to be both amusing and poignant without being trite.
The best thing about the film is that the funniest parts aren't in the commercials. So if the commercials looked amusing to you rest assured that there are some secret agent jokes, some plot complications and a lot of good lines that you don't already know by heart thanks to endless repetition on the commercials.
The worst parts of this movie are the sentimental "a boy and his dog" and "a boy and his father" plots. Jeff Goldblum is a marvelous actor and he does the loveable absent minded professor thing very well, but I didn't really care about him and the rest of the family. I wanted to get back to the animals. The "a boy and his dog" stuff was even more cloying. I found myself rooting for the cats. Being ruled by a egomaniac fascist feline would be better than watching manipulative drivel about the special connection between a boy and his dog. Some of the kids cried at the sweet stuff -- but I wanted feline world domination. (Insert evil laughter here.)
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Cats & Dogs (2001)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings