Cats & Dogs

Cats & Dogs

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

In the talking animals department, Babe takes some beating. Dr Dolittle 2 had a bash at it and the pain lingers on. Cats & Dogs, on the other hand, is so silly only a certified boring person would not enjoy.

For those who relish off-the-wall behaviour, the concept of an alternative universe, where dogs and cats control things, while humans are fooled into thinking they are warm-blooded toys, which can be talked down to, is perfectly understandable.

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An absent-minded professor (Jeff Goldblum) is working on a cure for dog fur allergies. The canine secret service has one of its operatives in house, keeping cats away. However, the moggies concoct a cunning wheeze to get the guard hound off the property and bundled into the back of a van.

Needing a replacement quick, the CSS orchestrate a puppy switch. Informants have provided the address of the farm from where Mrs Prof (Elizabeth Perkins) will choose a replacement for their lost pet. The doggie pros move in first and swap the adorable beagle pups in the barn for trained young dobermanns. However, Lou, one of the pups, has been hiding in the straw and when Mrs P turns up to chose from a line of sleek, well-disciplined junior agents, he jumps out and charms her socks off.

Meanwhile, back at base, the CSS is expecting great things from its new recruit only to be landed with Lou, whose puppiness needs cracking into shape by Butch, the area supervisor. As far as the cats are concerned, this is war. The Prof's serum for the allergy cannot be allowed to see the light of day, because, if it does, there will be many more dogs than cats in the world.

Mr Tinkles looks like the handsome white fluffball that sat on Blofeld's lap in the early Bond movies, except he's not nice. As commander-in-chief of the feline defence force, he may have to suffer humiliations at the hands of his human carers, who think of him as a dress-up doll, but in the field of operations, where his word is law, he is without mercy.

"The puppy won't survive the night," he snaps. "Send in the ninjas." Like so much else in this film, the ninjas are hilarious, an airborne unit of Burmese commandos.

There are more special effects than in Babe, but that can only be expected, since both sides use sophisticated technical equipment. The script by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra is as witty as you would like. Tobey Maguire (Lou), Alec Baldwin (Buster), Sean Hayes (Mr Tinkles), Susan Sarandon and Joe Pantoliano provide the voices and the whole thing is directed with the greatest good humour by Lawrence Guterman.

Reviewed on: 01 Aug 2001
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Evil cats try to take over the world.
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