Bill Murray once compared the end of the world at the hands of an evil god to cats and dogs living together. “Mass hysteria,” he said in 1984′s comedy classic Ghostbusters. Turns out this silly comparison may be appropriate, as in Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the two usually feuding furry animals must work together, with the end result being, of course, mass hysteria from cringing viewers.
This sequel to the 2001 hit, a family film about canine spies going up against feline foes, is much the same as its predecessor. While the original was a mediocre effort with a largely opportunistic premise, the follow-up has an increasingly opportunistic premise but unluckily buggers it up even more than the first one managed to do.
The movie starts with a supposedly lost and cute wittle puppy being taken into an office at a German base by one of the workers there. The worker’s barking, suspicious bloodhound peers through the window and watches as the Cocker Spaniel, taking pictures of top-secret documents, unzips its fur coat to reveal an evil, hairless pussycat called Kitty Galore (voiced by Bette Midler) inside.
The bloodhound contacts the dog, err, headquarters and tells them that he has spotted the wretched villain. A new recruit, an incompetent German Shephard named Diggs (James Marsden), is put on the job to track her down, along with his experienced partner Butch (Nick Nolte).
On their mission, they discover that Kitty Galore is attempting to send a high-pitched signal all across the world, which will drive every single dog totally cuckoo. Not as cuckoo as the makers of this film though. It also turns out that in order to stop their loathsome adversary, the dogs will have to team up with a group of cats, whether they like it or not. What a scandal!
This is the kind of film which producers are hoping will hypnotize gullible youngsters into begging their whining, groaning parents to miserably purchase movie tickets for them to go and see it with them in, urgh, 3D. Three dimensions of brainless un-tertainment. It makes the moronic mistake of thinking that a kids film doesn’t need wit or class to be good, when in fact the rule is the complete opposite.
About 90% of the script consists of frustrating feline and canine puns, and the other 10% relies on lazily clichéd dialogue. Truth be told, the writing isn’t anything if it’s not nauseating and should have anyone in the hopefully empty-seated audience over eight years old rolling their eyes.
The humour is entirely laughless, unable to gain even a chuckle from me and I have a wide range for comedy. I could see that it was trying to appeal to adults with the film references, particularly James Bond, but it’s just not witty enough to execute them in an effective manner. A sequence parodying the famous first appearance of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs simply goes on for too long and is too similar to other films and TV shows which have homaged the well-known scene.
The film may not resort to fart jokes or burp gags, but I was struggling to spot a single sophisticated quip for almost the entire running time. Then again, kids are easy to please, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they clap their hands in amazement at the talking pets.
To be fair, some of the special effects are not that bad and are certainly a step up from its predecessor. The CGI animation on Kitty Galore looks rather nice, if obviously crafted on a computer. But then there’s the tedious movement of the lips on the blabbering creatures, an effect which I don’t think will ever look anything other than odd.
The cast is not too shabby, if substantially unmemorable. James Marsden does fine with the drivel he has to read and Nick Nolte is superb as a gravelly voiced Anatolian Shepherd. Chris O’Donnell (Robin from the two Joel Schumacher Batman travesties), on the other hand, is bloody terrible as cop Shane, Diggs’ owner. Seriously, it’s as if someone is spinning tiny-lettered cue cards around for him to read off of. I’m really not surprised the Boy Wonder is practically unseen in today’s world of cinema.
Bette Midler is brilliant as Kitty Galore, cackling an evil laugh in the one of the film’s two outstanding performances. She brings a suitably threatening voice to the character, one that I very much admired. Sean Hayes is the second of these performances, reprising his role as Mr. Tinkles, the best character in the flick. He’s only in two scenes, but all of the somewhat respectable writing is squandered on the wise-cracking cat.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is predictable, generic, very badly scripted and is just a showcase for celebrity voice actors. It’s a bad boy, it needs to be put down, it should choke on its hairballs, it deserves a smack on the snout and it desperately needs obedience classes. Don’t listen to your kids and don’t pay for the damn thing. Buy them a puppy instead.
Three outta ten.