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The Truth About Cats & Dogs

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

Starring: Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman
Director: Michael Lehmann
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: April 1996
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Ben Chaplin, Stanley DeSantis, Richard Coca, Jamie Foxx, James McCaffrey

Review by Dragan Antulov
1 star out of 4

Movies based on simple ideas sometimes offer simple explanations of their failures. THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS & DOGS, 1996 romantic comedy directed by Michael Lehmann, is one such film.

The protagonist of this film is dr. Aby Barnes (played by Janeane Garofalo), expert veterinarian from Los Angeles. She is intelligent, well-read, witty and charming and that is the reason why her talk show, in which she gives advice to pet owners, happens to be among the more popular in Los Angeles area. One of pet owners interested in advice is British photographer Brian (played by Ben Chaplin). During the conversation he gets so intrigued by Aby that he decides to ask her for a date. However, circumstances conspire for Brian to mistake Noelle (played by Uma Thurman), Aby's neighbour and glamorous actress/modelfor Aby. Aby, who happens to think of herself as plain-looking and unattractive, decides to spare Brian from ugly truth and maintains relationship over the phone while Noelle agrees to double for her in real life.

Audrey Wells' script uses old plot of Rostand's CYRANO, switches the genders and puts the plot in modern-day Los Angeles thus giving it extra dimension in a world where image and physical beauty play much more important role than other human qualities. Michael Lehmann directs the movie very well, humour is good and the acting is solid. This film was supposed to be more than decent romantic comedy, but it didn't happen. Reason is very simple - casting. The entire film is based on the idea of Dr. Aby Barnes being ugly duckling, while Noelle is supposed to be a swan. The author of this review could very easily be burdened by unorthodox aesthetic criteria, but for him Janeane Garofalo is definitely not a ugly duckling and Uma Thurman is far from being ultimate embodiment of female beauty (Bridget Kelly's poor choice of costumes doesn't much help in the case of the latter). Suspension of disbelief, necessary for this kind of movies to work, is hard to maintain. It gets even harder to suspend disbelief when we see Ben Chaplin's character being so stupid and not seeing through charade as simple as Aby's. Because of that, THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS & DOGS, a movie that was supposed to be one of Hollywood's better romantic comedies, reveals sad truth of Hollywood filmmakers being unable to overcome its weaknesses even when they are quite aware of them.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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