THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE"
I am startled to look back into my own archives and discover that I gave 2001's Cats & Dogs a 3-star review. Honestly, I remember almost nothing about that film. Apparently I liked it. ("So much fun, you may want to lick yourself," I joked. How did that not get quoted on the DVD case?) This brings us to the way-too-late sequel Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. The audience for this film wasn't born when the original was released. Everyone else, like me, will probably say, "Did I even see the first one?"
This time, a hairless cat named Kitty Galore (voiced by Bette Midler) has concocted an evil plan to turn canines and felines against their human owners. An underground spy network of dogs recruits a shamed police K-9 named Diggs (James Marsden) to help stop her. Diggs is paired up with veteran Butch (Nick Nolte) and works under the command of beagle Lou (Neil Patrick Harris, now filling in for Tobey Maguire). However, Kitty's plans are so nefarious that the dogs reluctantly have to work with a similar feline organization to prevent the catastrophe. Christina Applegate does the voice of head cat Catherine, who leads the charge.
This is an odd movie. To create the illusion of talking, stunt-performing animals, the film uses a combination of real pets, animatronic puppets, and CGI. And the weird thing is that it doesn't really even attempt to hide that. The characters often look different from one shot to the next.
I think young children will enjoy Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore very much, while adults will probably opt to go out into the kitchen and wash dishes while the tykes watch it. Most of the humor is aimed at a kid's level, with every corny dog- or cat-related pun imaginable putting in an appearance. A few of them garnered chuckles from me, but more earned groans (although, in fairness, that's kind of the point of a pun anyway). The attempts at more adult humor are outdated at best. Silence of the Lambs references? Really?!
Someone recently said we should retire the expression "it is what it is," but I think it applies here. This movie was made for young kids, who will love the silliness of the comedy and the cuteness of the animals. My two year-old son squealed with delight on a regular basis. As an adult, I found it to be eminently more watchable than some of the other recent similar films, like the execrable Furry Vengeance. This one at least tries to be clever, and it avoids that other picture's incessant nastiness in favor of unobjectionable sweetness. The potty humor is blessedly kept to a minimum, as well. On the other hand, it never rises to the level where viewers of all ages will be equally enchanted. This is kids' stuff all the way.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is far from the best family film out there, but you could also do a lot worse.
( out of four)
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is available on DVD or in a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack. Look for it also on demand through digital cable, satellite TV, and select game consoles. It is available to buy through digital download from digital movie retailers.
The bonus material, like the feature itself, will be more amusing to children than to adults. "Dogs Dishing: Tales from the Bark Side" is an eight-minute feature in which the filmmakers pretend that the animal stars were divas, engaging in bad behavior on set and illicitly using catnip in their trailers. That sort of thing. On a similar note, there are three minutes of fake bloopers, in which the animals flub their lines.
The other bonus materials are not specifically related to the movie. "Best of the Best Cats vs. Dogs Animated Showdowns" mashes together brief film clips with feline/canine moments from Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry shorts. "Coyote Falls" is a CGI Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner feature that played with Cats & Dogs during its 3D theatrical run. It's just okay; I still find it odd to see these characters in anything other than traditional animation. Finally, there's a sneak peek at Warner Brother's upcoming Yogi Bear movie.
A digital copy of the film is included with the Blu-Ray.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is rated PG for animal action and humor. The running time is 1 hour and 22 minutes.