As far as talking animal movies go (is there a more tired genre out there?), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore doesn’t offer much of anything that your kids haven’t seen before. But the screenwriters deserve at least a little credit– for the first time in recent memory, there’s a rather unique element introduced: a human accidentally hears the animals talking.
Sure it’s a little thing, bit it’s a nice touch, and it’s one of a couple running gags in the movie that actually work.
Cats & Dogs tells the story of a particularly bad feline (we know this because she’s hairless), who’s bent on making the world her own private litter box. Kitty Galore (Bette Midler) has concocted a secret plan that will turn every dog on Earth against its owner, forcing humans to make cats the universal pet of choice.
Indeed, grim days are ahead, forcing the dogs of the world to gather, find Kitty, and foil her evil plot. When it’s also revealed that she’s got a bit of a vendetta for the cat cadre MEOWS (Mousers Enforcing Our World Safety), well… all kinds of craziness breaks loose– dogs and cats must work together.
Our heroes are Diggs (James Marsden), who’s a disgraced K-9 unit, and Butch (Nick Nolte) who takes the rookie under his wing. The top cat is Catherine (Christina Applegate), and, oh yeah, there’s a pigeon named Seamus (Katt Williams) thrown in for good measure, just to make things interesting.
If your kids have seen G-Force or Marmaduke or Beverly Hills Chihuahua, chances are they’ll want to see this, too, and it’s perfectly fine. Along with the cute bit with the human overhearing the festivities, Cats & Dogs also offers some pretty solid send-ups any number of movies, all of which (coincidentally enough) are ‘adult’ fare, including any stoner movie you’ve ever seen and The Silence of the Lambs; the gang visits a cell block to get advice from a fluffy Hannibal Lecter-type kitty named Mr. Sprinkles (Sean Hayes). It wIll fly right over kids’ heads, but parents will have a good chuckle.
The biggest ‘inspiration’ though, comes from the James Bond franchise. From a very Bond-ish opening title sequence (set to Shirley “Goldfinger” Bassey’s cover of “Get This Party Started”), to a Q-like dog who equips our heroes with really nifty collars, to Bond himself, (Roger Moore) voicing the leader of MEOWS, there’s no shortage of in-jokes designed specially for, yes, the ‘older’ segments of the audience.
When it comes down to it, Cats & Dogs is chock-full of cute puppies and kitties, a few pretty decent action sequences, and even a couple silly one-liners. It’s perfectly harmless, and it may actually have you stifling a handful of laughs. Your kids, meanwhile, will be bouncing off their seats, celebrating the pet-fueled mayhem.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re not late to the theater. Mixed in with the trailers is an all-new Looney Toon, featuring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. It’s computer-animated, but it’s no less entertaining that the original cartoons 60 years ago.