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Cats & Dogs

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Cats & Dogs

Starring: Alec Baldwin, Michael Duncan
Director: Larry Guterman
Rated: PG
RunTime: 83 Minutes
Release Date: July 2001
Genres: Action, Comedy, Kids

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In a line of canine propaganda, Butch (voiced by Alec Baldwin) reminds us "Dogs have always been man's best friend." Cats, on the other hand, represent the dark side in Lawrence Guterman's live action comedy, CATS & DOGS, a movie that has enough on its mind to entertain the parents but is clearly aimed at the youngsters in the audience.

In this eternal battle between cats and dogs, both sides are now armed. A crack team of secret agent dogs has doghouses that are worthy of NSA outposts. Using every weapon from radar to sonar to thermal imaging, they are tracking the nefarious cats. After admonishing his dog agents that "failure is not an option," their leader goes on to remind them "one hundred million dogs have placed their destiny firmly in our paws."

The three humans in the story are an out-to-lunch Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum), a mad scientist like Wayne Szalinski from HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS, the professor's oblivious-to-the-obvious wife (Elizabeth Perkins), and their son, Scott, played lifelessly by Alexander Pollock. The professor is working on a cure for dog allergies in humans. With it, everyone can adopt a puppy without worries. This, however, worries the felines who figure that this would constitute a cataclysmic shift in the balance of world power between cats and dogs. The cats want to stop the professor and turn his experiment to their use.

The feline arsenal includes everything from Ninja paratroopers to stealth poop. Their leader, a snowball of a cat named Mr. Tinkles (voiced by Sean Hayes), will stop at nothing in his mission of world domination. His biggest problem is a pesky maid who treats him like, well, a cat. Most humiliating is her proclivity for dressing him in cute little dresses. The dog world looks to an accidental new recruit, a sweet little beagle named Lou (actually short for Loser), who is voiced by Tobey Maguire, to lead their battle. Not surprisingly, Lou rises to the challenge.

The script by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra has many funny moments. My favorite line comes from a dog named Ivy (voiced by Susan Sarandon). Although strictly speaking she is a "stray," she prefers to refer to her condition as being "domestically challenged." The best moment comes in a totalitarian dictator scene as Mr. Tinkles lays out his grand plan to his assembled masses. It's a stirringly funny scene.

Personally, I am waiting for the sequel, DOGS & CATS, so that the dogs' evil ways can be exposed, and the sweet kitties can conquer. Did I mention that -- although I love all animals -- I am definitely a cat person? No matter. Any objective observer will see that the poor cats were railroaded in this comedy and deserve a chance for revenge!

CATS & DOGS runs 1:27. It is rated PG for animal action and humor and would be acceptable for all ages.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, loved everything about the film and gave it ****. He especially mentioned how much he enjoyed Lou, Mr. Tinkles, the gadgets and the animals' planning. His cousin Matthew, age 5, gave the movie **** as well. His favorite part was the mice scene. Matthew's brother Jacob, age 8, gave it ***. He enjoyed Mr. Tinkles's dress-up scenes the best.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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