Cats & Dogs is ridiculous and harmless, a Mission: Impossible for the animal world. For years, a secret high-tech espionage war has been waged between the feline and canine races, right under the noses of ignorant humans. The spark of this high-tech war came about as the result of the dog race overthrowing the then-dominating cat race during ancient Egyptian times (they even ruled the human race). Man's best friend re-established the humans as the dominant race and has protected that balance for years. And a breakthrough for dogs is approaching, as one human, Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum), is on the verge of discovering an allergy vaccine which will enable all humans and dogs to co-exist in peace. The only problem is that the diabolic Mr. Tinkle (voiced by Sean Hayes), a furry white Persian with the attitude of Richard Grant's character from Hudson Hawk, and his small army of pesky felines have "cat-knapped" the family dog Buddy, who has been guarding the Professor and his family from the tuna-breathed fiends. The bodyguard job then falls on the shoulders of a Beagle pup named Lou (voiced by Toby Maguire) -- who is mistaken as a secret agent dog by an Anatolian Shepard named Butch (voiced by Alec Baldwin).
Butch and his crew, which includes an Old English sheep dog named Sam (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) and a Chinese Crested named Peek (voiced by Joe Pantoliano), train young Lou in self-defense and the best ways to put a cat down for good. Along the way, Lou and the crew face crazed Siamese ninja cats, a Russian Blue who throws enough knives to make Oddjob proud, and the tyrannical Mr. Tinkles, who declares in moments of comedic brilliance that, "Evil does not wear a bonnet!"
It sounds ugly but hey, it's a kids movie and that's the audience that will love it. The animal training/acting is above par. The computer graphics are decent, but the animatronic talking dogs and cats resemble the talking dolls on the boat ride at Disneyland's "It's A Small World." My biggest complaint with Cats & Dogs is that once again, cats are demonized into evil incarnations that would have Jim Jones shaking in his boots. "Who Will You Root For?" the posters ask us. The film leaves you no choice at all. [filmcritic.com is cat people. -Ed.]
The downfall of Cats & Dogs comes when the human characters start dominating the film. The cornball Hallmark-esque moments of family bonding and issues of neglected children distract you from the sharp comedy between Mr. Tinkle and his main henchman Calico (voiced by the brilliant John Lovitz) as they discuss their vain attempt to take over the world through "World Domination Pamphlets."
And I'd also like to know how the hell the dogs are able to afford to build rocket ships and radar stations to keep this war going.
Stop humping the laser!
Run time: 87 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 4th July 2001
Box Office USA: $90.9M
Box Office Worldwide: $93.4M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures, Mad Chance, Zide-Perry Productions, BenderSpink
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 62 Rotten: 53
IMDB: 5.2 / 10
Director: Lawrence Guterman