by KYW’s Bill Wine
Talk about a putrid pet project.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is a silly, sorry, soggy sequel to the slapsticky, profitable 2001 kiddie comedy, Cats & Dogs.
Young and tiny viewers deserve better.
Like its predecessor, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is family fare that blends live action, CGI trickery, and animatronic puppetry. The premise it buries a bone under is that, while we humans aren’t looking, the feline faithful and canine commandoes continue waging a ferocious, high-tech war.
So fur, so bad.
Kitty Galore, a furless Persian voiced by Bette Midler (who also gets to sing) — a former agent for MEOWS, a cat spy organization that rivals their opposite number, known as DOGS — has gone rogue and hatched an elaborate plan to attempt world domination (gee, there’s a new plot thrust).
So cats and dogs will now have to join forces, an unprecedented alliance of eternal enemies, to thwart KG’s nefarious plans.
How tired can a screenplay be?
The original was a hairball: sloppy, charmless, and unfunny. The followup is, if anything, even harder to swallow. The CG-eyesore cats are so obviously bogus, it makes it rough if not impossible to buy the doggedly mounted illusion.
The large voice cast includes James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Sean Hayes, Christina Applegate, Neil Patrick Harris, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Clarke Duncan, Wallace Shawn, and Roger Moore. But nobody gets to carve out a performance or register as distinct or winning in any way.
Canadian director Brad Peyton, making his feature debut, works from a screenplay by Ron J. Friedman and Steve Bencich that opens like a James Bond spoof, then abandons that approach and simply surrenders itself to the cartoon universe early on and doesn’t really try to make the anthropomorphic cat and dog characters even vaguely resemble their real-world species.
Preschoolers may not care, but it’s certainly a lazy and insulting approach, one that will prove monotonous to anyone of age or approaching it and quite a few nowhere near it as well.
Mostly, the director just directs animal traffic as four-legged, obviously-CGI creatures cavort, overrunning the sets and a screen that can hardly contain them. Admittedly, there are a few cute sight gags, but, overall, watching the film feels more than a little bit like being trapped in a humongous pet store at exactly the moment when all the cages snap open and chaos ensues.
Much of the action is staged, of course, to accommodate and accentuate the currently popular and fashionable 3-D process, which in this case ends up being by far the most dynamic dimension the movie has. That’s not in any way a compliment.
The two Eddie Murphy-fronted Dr. Dolittle flicks did a better job with the kid-friendly talking-animal gimmick about a decade ago. On the other paw, Cats & Dogs is a case of do little, do late.
So we’ll use the pooper-scooper on 1 star out of 4 for the incoherent, incohesive, and almost cat-astrophic critter fritter, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Take the little ones if you must; just know that sitting through it is… ruff.