DVD Release Date:  November 16, 2010
Theatrical Release Date:  July 30, 2010
Rating:  PG (for animal action and humor)
Genre:  Family
Run Time:  82 min.
Director:  Brad Peyton
Voices by:  James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate, Katt Williams, Bette Midler, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Chris O' Donnell, Jack McBrayer, Fred Armisen

Aside from Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me, kids (and their parents) have really gotten the short end of the cinematic stick this summer. And sadly, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore doesn't exactly up the ante. In fact, this sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs (that I'm pretty sure nobody asked for, natch) is so bad that it should've gone straight to video.

Unlike the aforementioned Toy Story series, I'm pretty sure the original audience for Cats & Dogs has already moved on to bigger and brighter movie horizons. So naturally, that begs the question: Why in the world did Hollywood movie execs greenlight this dreadful mess and drag truly funny people like Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes and Bette Midler along for the ride?

Since I'm just your friendly movie critic, I don't have an answer for this, of course. But I truly am mystified by how a big-budget kiddie flick could go so wrong, so fast. Not only is the storytelling from the gimmicky, scrape-the-bottom-of-the-barrel-for-laughs ilk, but the wretched fake fur puppetry for the animals is so embarrassingly cheap that it looks like it was conceived in your local mall's Build-a-Bear Workshop.

Isn't it crazy when nine years pass, and the technology can actually get worse?

But given that cats and dogs are involved, the filmmakers probably assumed that young children simply wouldn't care. However, I've always been convinced that kids can sense when they're being served a dud, and there were few laughs heard in my particular screening.

Basically, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (yes, a wink and a nudge to the Bond movies) is the story of a rambunctious police dog named Diggs (James Marsden), who's recently been suspended from the force for his bad behavior. Sensing an opportunity to use his precocious nature for an even worthier cause, Butch (Nick Nolte) recruits Diggs for an elite tactical unit designed to fight against any pooch's worst arch nemesis:  the entire kitty population.

And with the latest feline to go rogue now on the loose, Kitty Galore (Bette Midler), a hairless cat with an evil plan to turn dogs (gasp!) against their owners for good, Diggs and the rest of his doggie pals have their work cut out for them.

As it turns out, though, Kitty Galore isn't exactly making life for her peers easy either, so for the first time in history, cats and dogs are now forced to work together for a common goal. Setting up a satellite dish to broadcast the assault, the pups only have a few hours to discover her secret lair and thwart Kitty Galore's hostile takeover.


Borrowing from several classic movies including The Silence of the Lambs, Batman and the aforementioned Bond, almost every joke in Cats & Dogs falls horribly flat. Like I said before, the audience just wasn't laughing, and I heard far more popcorn crunching than anything else.

Thematically, there are some interesting ideas here, but they just aren't executed very well. While the idea of two species that can't stand each other working together is definitely admirable, the journey is ultimately dull and filled with about as much imagination and wonder as the worst Saturday morning cartoon.

If you want to experience a real meeting of the canine and feline minds, I'd  consider Netflixing a classic like 1963's The Incredible Journey or even the entertaining 1993 remake. Not only will you save a ton of money (especially if you actually entertained the idea of seeing Cats & Dogs in 3D), but you won't be subjected to a slew of lame poo jokes in the process.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Several drug references during a scene where several cats are buzzing on catnip. Dogs are shown drinking, smoking and yes, even gambling when the famous "dogs playing poker" painting comes to life.

  • Language/Profanity:  No actual profanity, but plenty of euphemisms including "oh my dog," and "what the —" which is never finished but used whenever an expletive would be appropriate. Other rude dialogue includes plenty of scatological humor (butt sniffing, poo references and the like) and a double entendre.

  • Sex/Nudity:  During a sexual harassment workshop, spy dogs are advised not to pinch others inappropriately. There's also a bit of suggestive flirty banter between Diggs and the pretty lady dogs that walk by.

  • Violence:  Mostly shenanigans of a comedic canine nature like bad guys getting bit in the rear by dogs. There are also a few lighthearted (but still dangerous) action sequences that involve exploding bombs, falling fiery balls of debris and animals falling from considerable heights. There's also a scary merry-go-round that could cause some future playground fright for the younger set.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.