Thursday, July 29, 2010
Review: "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore"
It has been nine years since "Cats & Dogs" first exposed us to a secret underground war fought between talking canines and felines, with super-spy agents facing off with James Bond-esque gadgetry.
Now we have a sequel, of sorts, which has improved the sleekness of the computer-generated antics, but not the bone-headed approach to making kiddie flicks.
As near as I can determine, nobody involved with the first movie had anything to do with this one, other than Sean Hayes, Michael Clarke Duncan and a couple others reprising small roles voicing critters -- essentially, they're vocal walk-ons. Even the humans have been swapped out.
By the title, "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," we might be led to believe that a dastardly arch-villain has returned to wreak more havoc. But no, Kitty Galore is a new creation, a hairless cat voiced by Bette Midler, and with an origin story that's an homage/rip-off of the Joker's.
Kitty wants to broadcast "The Call of the Wild," a nefarious high-pitched recording that will drive all the world's dogs mad, thus estranging them from their human companions, and leaving cats free to take over as, er, top dogs.
Nick Nolte provides the voice of Butch, the veteran dog agent (voiced by Alec Baldwin last time around) forced to partner up with Diggs (James Marsden), an accident-prone police dog recently recruited into the doggie agency. They've got fancy comm links in their dog houses, collars hiding lasers and lockpicks, and subterranean rocket transit tubes for high-speed travel to Dog World Headquarters.
Turns out the cats have their own spy outfit, Mousers Ensuring Our World's Safety (I'll let you figure it out), and Catherine (Christina Applegate) is their top agent. After briefly tangling with Diggs and Butch, she decides to join paws to foil Kitty's evil plot.
Tagging along is Seamus (Katt Williams), a dodo-headed dove who turns out to be an unwitting stool pigeon, but mostly is one jive-talking turkey.
There's a few occasional inspired moments. I liked the trapped room slowly filling with kitty litter. And a houseful of catnip-tripping kittens. And there's a cookie after the end credits worth sticking around for.
But this is low-wattage entertainment aimed at very small children -- kindergartners would likely grow impatient with it. It's an unimaginative collection of shiny things, cute critters and goofy action meant to distract tykes for 82 minutes.
Call me catty, but I think we can do better by our kids, and our pets.
The 3-D effects are decent, but not worth the ticket upgrade. Though "Coyote Falls," a new Road Runner cartoon preceding the movie, is a nostalgic treat.
1.5 stars out of four