Movie Review by Susannah Macklin
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes, Susan Sarandon
Director: Lawrence Guterman
You know the school summer holidays are here when ideas that sound preposterous on paper start making their way into the cinema. Talking pigs, kids as spies, cats and dogs as secret agents?? Barking mad it may sound – but CATS & DOGS is exposing the reality of a secret war that’s been raging unbeknown to man for centuries. Yes, the battle between mans best friend and feline is about to surface – and just in time for the weather turning wet and the kids getting bored!
An older looking, but no less kooky Jeff Goldblum, reprises his usual wacky weirdo role as inventor Professor Brody. Brody is in the process of developing a special formula that will prevent human allergy to dogs. Having until now fought a cold war with the dogs, our feline friends led by an amusing Persian scarily named Mr Tinkles, realise they need to take action against Brody. They need to get hold of the allergy formula and reverse it or our canine companions will be one step up the ladder. Cue the undercover doggy agents who are sent in by their four-legged government to save the world from a cat take-over bid, and let the fur fly. This is full on war!
In case you’re wondering, this isn’t an all out CGI movie. The cats and dogs of the title are the real deal, with added in mouth animation to give them the power to talk. Although there are some less authentic moments of computer action in parts, they should keep the kids fascinated. Vocalising the animals is soon to be SPIDERMAN Tobey Maguire, playing main pup at the centre of the action, rookie agent and cutesy Beagle Lou, and Alec Baldwin providing the vocal chords of his mentor, old-timer Butch. A pretty hot non-live action cast, and just as well because their characters really need to shine to get through all that fur. The story is also pretty solid and plays well, and there are some genuinely amusing old cartoon style scenes. Think TOM & JERRY.
The only negative in this movie is the lack of real in-jokes for adults. Although the premise of CATS & DOGS may appear to be aimed at adults in part, the opportunity to play on the more mature persons appreciation of either type of furry friend has been massively missed. Unfortunately this makes it a movie that you’d take the kids to see and enjoy but not necessarily a movie you’d take yourself to see, without feeling a little silly afterwards. The FX are all there, there’s even some doggy/cat CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON style fight scenes, and a hilarious nod at WEEKEND AT BERNIES, but much of it gets lost in the childishness of it all.
Having said those things I could be a bit jaded by the fact I was watching the movie in a screening packed with kids, whose overall verdict I should add, was that CATS & DOGS was ‘amazing’. By the end of it I was more concerned about avoiding the popcorn being aimed at my head than the movie. However there’s no denying it’s a definite winner for young pups – but probably not a great Friday/Saturday night movie choice for you older cats.
Oh and for the more sensitive of you – I should probably add that no animals were hurt during the screening of this movie. But my head was!