Cats & Dogs

cats & dogsReleased: 2001
Director: Lawrence Guterman
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Tobey Maguire, Jeff Goldblum

A fun family spy spoof


I am a big kid at heart. I freely admit it and I see no shame in it in fact I embrace my inner child. I think we are all a little bit too quick to grow up and be all so serious and adult about life. I’m pretty proud of the fact that despite being in middish 30s I own a healthy number of films aimed at a younger audience. Having said all that there are some of these films that I rarely watch including Cats & Dogs, the 2001 family spy spoof which has sat unloved on my DVD shelf for years as it’s a bit “childish”. As one of my New Year’s resolutions is to watch all of my film collection I thought this was a good place to start.

We all know that cats and dogs vie for supremacy in our affections. Until a few years ago I was firmly a dog person, then a certain little puss cat wormed his way into my heart and now I’m the kind of crazy cat lady that I always mocked. Cats & Dogs develops this into an all-out war in the animal kingdom with our furry friends employing advanced technology in their fight to win the hearts and minds of humans. Into this age-old battle wanders sweet, innocent beagle puppy Lou adopted by a human family who are under the protection of doggy agents as the father may hold the secret to a cure to dog allergies. Evil cat Mr Tinkles threatens Lou and his new family as he attempts to enact his evil plans for world domination.

This is a fun mix of live action, animatronics with puppetry from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and CGI. Looking at it with over a decade’s hindsight there are a couple of ropey moments but it’s by no means completely without merit and young children will still be enchanted by some of the scenes, particularly the ninja cats and kids will love the cute animals and cheesy jokes. Adults will also be able to take something from this playful comedy which refers to almost every genre cliché including the grizzled veteran, the femme fatale and the naïve rookie.

The human cast, which includes a scenery chewing Jeff Goldblum, is almost entirely outshone by their animal counterparts and the voice talent. Tobey Maguire is sweet as Lou and Alec Baldwin is fabulous as cynical old-timer Butch, but the best lines go to Sean Hayes as evil Mr Tinkles, the fluffy White Persian cat who plots world domination while fending off the suffocating attention of his owner’s maid. The line “Evil does not wear a bonnet” delivered while wearing a bonnet will always make me laugh.

Cats & Dogs is a perfectly fine children’s film. It’s nothing special but it’s designed to make us enjoy ourselves for an hour and a half. What could be better than throwing off the boring old shackles of adulthood, picking sides and deciding once and for all whether we are a cat person or a dog person!

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