There’s no reason for me to keep secret the fact that I was absolutely dreading the screening of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. I love animals more than the average person, but — as I mentioned very recently — I’m not a big fan of films that slap CGI “talking mouths” onto real-live animal actors. Cats and Dogs 2 did this, in addition to throwing a few completely animated characters into the mix, and the unnatural-looking results were by far the worst parts of the film.
But the good news is that everything else about the animal spy romp was harmless — the sort of goofy fun that, if I’m in the right mood, I really enjoy. So I guess I was in the right mood the night I saw The Revenge of Kitty Galore, because I found myself laughing and smiling consistently, from its opening Bond-like sequence to the closing credits, which featured America’s Funniest Home Video-ish clips of real cats and dogs duking it out.
This sequel to 2001′s Cats & Dogs (currently available at redbox) revolves around a lot of the same characters, but the entire voice cast has been replaced. Canine agent Butch (Nick Nolte… previously Alec Baldwin) recruits rejected police-dog Diggs (James Marsden) into his spy organization in order to help track down Kitty Galore. Kitty (Bette Midler) is a female feline version of Austin Powers‘ Dr. Evil — complete with pet mouse she obsessively strokes — who’s threatened to broadcast a dog-ear-piercing noise around the world and then proceed to enslave all humankind once Man’s Best Friend is out of the picture.
Since the dogs aren’t having much luck on their own and their imminent destruction draws closer, they find they have no choice but to team up with the MEOWS — the cat spies, lead by head agent Catherine (Christina Applegate). Will they be able to put aside their differences and save the world? Differences like cats preferring to do their business in a litter box, while dogs greet each other by sniffing behinds? Those are some serious obstacles, my friends.
The reason I liked Cats & Dogs 2 is because it really should have sucked. No one was expecting much from this film — just a few hours to keep the whippersnappers occupied during the summer, right? Instead, a lot of the dialogue was quite clever; I found myself laughing out loud several times. And it wasn’t at the many, many, many silly puns that screenwriters Ron J. Friedman and Steve Bencich included. It was at sly details, like shout-outs to Silence of the Lambs, or “Stay” instead of “Park” on the dogs’ car dashboards, or a short scene with a bunch of stoned-on-catnip kitties. I also appreciated the characters’ caustic sense of humor — they weren’t written to be sickly sweet, nor were they dumbed-down simply because they were in a film meant for kids.
So I think Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is a safe choice for families this weekend: there’s not a dull moment in it, youngsters will love the animals and the action, and adults will appreciate the pop-culture references and the snappy dialogue.