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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 - Edition No 894 

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CATS AND DOGS

SYNOPSIS:
Throw out your history books. The ancient Egyptians didn’t worship cats; they were enslaved by them. Who put the humans back in charge? Mankind’s best friend of course. Now the faithful pooches of the world must come to our aid once more. Oblivious, like the rest of humanity, to the complex cat and dog espionage going on under their noses, the Brody family little realises that their new beagle, Lou (voice of Tobey Maguire), has been accidentally assigned to protect Professor Brody’s (Jeff Goldblum) research into the ultimate cure against dog allergies. Evil mastermind, posing as pretty Persian pussy, Mr Tinkles (Sean Hayes), has a diabolical plan and only Lou along with a menagerie of canine special agents can frustrate these feline designs.

What's New Pussycat, croons Tom Jones in the closing credits. What's new indeed! In a fun-filled frivolous adventure of the four legged kind that parodies Mission Impossible, Men in Black and the James Bond films, Cats and Dogs is a cute, charismatic canine/feline adventure for the whole family. There are dogs operating Mission Control, cats driving stretch limos and when the power-possessed Persian says 'bring in the Russian', it's an angelic looking blue number that coughs up doggie poo, meant to be a fur ball. The script is snappy and the one liners keep on coming. The (animal) characters are truly adorable and the talented cast of voices is fabulous. The human characters play a relatively small part, but Jeff Goldblum is aptly eccentric as the mad scientist, Elisabeth Perkins lovely as his patient wife and Alexander Pollock terrific as their son. Tobey Maguire's Lou (short for Loser) is compelling as the pocket Beagle, but the actual selection of cats and dogs in itself is interesting; we meet Butch, the Anatolian shepherd (voiced by Alex Baldwin), a Saluki hound called Ivy (voice of Susan Sarandon), Peek is a hairless Chinese Crested and Sam the English Sheepdog is voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan. The piece de resistance of voice casting is Charlton Heston as the dog commander, Mastiff. The cats are equally unusual – from the Devon Rexes to the Exotic Shorthair and of course Mr Tinkles himself, the long-haired egomaniacal white ball of fluff. My favourite line in the film is when the plump European housemaid in the drab black maid's outfit, dresses Mr Tinkles up in a pretty pink bonnet with bows. 'Evil does not wear a bonnet', the feline mutters. And when it's time for Tinkles' comeuppance, the ultimate humiliation is ticklish in anyone's language. If you loved Stuart Little and Mouse Hunt, you'll warm to this purr-fect four legged escapist fantasy trip. Cats and Dogs is a treat for all pets – human or otherwise!
Louise Keller

Anthropomorphism has come a long way since Toad of Toad Hall got into a spot of mischief behind the wheel of a vintage sports car. Now even the cats and dogs are mastering an array of whiz-bang espionage technology that would have Q panting like a beagle. This film’s strength lies in its cute factor. Its animal stars are super cute and so is its basic premise. This is played for all its worth, which unfortunately also results in the film’s weakness. Predictability. After a while the never ending jokes about undercover canines and megalomaniac moggies cause considerable longueurs in this animals’ tale. On the other paw, the CGI FX are absolutely outstanding and as a visual feast the film never flags. The human characters are no more than cartoon caricatures and played as such. Watching the self-absorbed antics of Goldblum’s eccentric scientist is about as entertaining as choking on a fur ball. The voicings, however, are terrific, particularly Sean Hayes as the Persian villain, whom you can almost imagine petting a miniature Blofeld. Again, the parodies of the evil mastermind with dimwitted minions is funny at first but overdone, as is the on going Puss-in-Bonnets gag. Still you’d have to be pretty cynical not to be charmed. The main problem that experienced cat people will have is buying the idea that they are whisking up a plan to rule the world; most cats I’ve come across believe they already do.
Brad Green



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

See the TRAILER

CATS AND DOGS (PG)
(US)

CAST: Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, Alexander Pollock

VOICES OF: Alec Baldwin, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sean Hayes, Jon Lovitz, Tobey Maguire, Susan Sarandon

PRODUCERS: Christopher DeFaria, Andrew Lazar, Craig Perry, Warren Zide

DIRECTOR: Lawrence Guterman

SCRIPT: John Requa, Glenn Ficarra

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Julio Macat

EDITOR: Rick Finney, Michael A. Stevenson

MUSIC: John Debney

PRODUCTION DESIGN: James D. Bissell

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 20, 2001







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