Cats & Dogs


Live-action and very lively, Cats & Dogs does rain amusing and colorful cats and dogs in its by-the-numbers story of an imagined centuries-old conflict between felines and canines. The movie presents the contemporary, high-stakes face-off of a C.I.A.-like dog consortium doing battle with a James Bond-ish band of villainous cats intent on world domination. Making their non-human protagonists all the more real, the filmmakers cleverly used a combination of actual animals and animatronic and cyber doubles. In fact, 800 visual effects involving a team of close to 200 people were deployed.

With a silly plot that has loveable beagle pup Lou recruited by a dog spy organization that must bust the cat troops led by the evil Persian cat Mr. Tinkles, Cats & Dogs is a delight for the very young. The animals, which also include an Anatolian shepherd as the veteran spy-master Butch, a Saluki Hound, a Chinese Crested and an English sheepdog, are rendered all the more amusing by the top-notch actors who lend their voices. These include Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes, Susan Sarandon, Joe Pantoliano and Michael Clarke Duncan. The far less important humans comprise the familiar generic American family that owns Lou.

Because of its merely serviceable screenplay, Cats & Dogs does waste some industrial-strength acting talents. Jeff Goldblum plays Professor Brody, an obsessed scientist desperate to find a cure for human allergies to dogs. Conveniently and in spite of prolonged time spent in the basement lab at the family house, he's also the film's garden variety good dad to son Scott (Alexander Pollock) and dutiful husband to his wife (Elizabeth Perkins).

Because Cats & Dogs is so silly, animal lovers may not mind too much that the film is unabashedly biased in favor of the canines. And far from best in show, the film doesn't come close to measuring up to Babe. But, bottom line, Cats & Dogs is often lots of fun for kids and pet lovers of all ages.

--Doris Toumarkine