Judge Paul Pritchard likes to think that, if he were a suave feline spy, he'd have pussy galore.
"Work with cats? I'd rather have worms!"
Just like real spies…only furrier.
Facts of the Case
When rogue M.E.O.W.S. agent Kitty Galore (Bette Midler, Beaches) unleashes a plan that threatens both dogs and cats, the former enemies must come together to save the world.
New canine recruit Diggs (James Marsden, X-Men), a former police dog, is partnered with veteran field agent Butch (Nick Nolte, 48 Hours) to bring down Kitty. They are joined on their mission by M.E.O.W.S. agent Catherine (Christina Applegate, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), and Seamus (Katt Williams, Norbit), a fast talking pigeon.
It's hard to accuse Warner Bros. of cashing in on the success of the original Cats and Dogs, considering that—as the sequel has taken 9 years to hit the screen—those same children who helped it rake in a worldwide gross of $200 million have moved on to Harry Potter. But considering the original hardly called out for a follow-up, that impressive box office haul must have been a major reason for greenlighting the sequel; it certainly must have looked like a reasonably safe bet.
Much like its predecessor, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore isn't a film rich in plot, and despite the nine year hiatus, the writers still haven't come up with anything new to say. But then, why reinvent the wheel when your original audience has moved on, allowing you to just spice up the original recipe? So, instead of an all new experience, we just get a more action orientated, faster paced version of the original, and if you're not in a particularly demanding mood, it's not bad. And though it's not great either—and I doubt few adults will have much fun with the movie on their own, or its pun-laden dialogue ("let's kick some tail")—it provides a perfectly harmless way to spend 82 minutes with the kids.
Aimed primarily at the under-tens, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore uses that well-worn sequel device of having the previous film's bitter enemies—that would be the cats and dogs of the title—teaming up to battle a common threat; in this case the evil Kitty Galore. The first problem I have with this move is that it effectively pits the entire resources of both species against Kitty and her single hired muscle, Paws. Being outnumbered to such an extent is almost enough to have you rooting for the bad guy. The second problem is that, though the film goes out of its way to give cats a better press following their drubbing in the original, the three villains of the piece are—yes, you've guessed it—felines. Could we not have had a third species introduced? I'd pay good money to see Cats and Dogs: Rise of the Rabid Gerbil.
Acknowledging the fact that few of the original movies fans are likely to be interested in a sequel, the writers bring in a host of new leads (pun fully intended), with only a few returning characters from Cats and Dogs making an appearance. Of these, the only one of interest is the first film's rogue Mr. Tinkles who makes a fun Silence of the Lambs inspired cameo.
The Silence of the Lambs reference is only one of several nods to other movies featured in Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, which follows the annoying trend of children's films which insist on including jokes aimed at adults that will go right over a kid's head.
The human cast is limited mostly to Chris O'Donnell (Batman and Robin) and Jack McBrayer (Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Both roles are fleetingly, and are given little to do other than be the comedic foil for their furry co-stars. Much like the original Cats and Dogs, the voice cast features a number of B-listers, with Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog) and James Marsden being the standouts. Nick Nolte seems to be rushing through his lines at breakneck speed, despite his gruff tones working reasonably well, while the returning Sean Hayes (as Mr. Tinkles) steals every scene he's in.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore features a heavy use of CGI to bring its characters to life, with varying degrees of success. For the most part the effects are seamless, though at times—particularly during the more spectacular set pieces—the effects are laughably poor. There's also significant use of puppet work, which fares less well than the CGI with there being little doubt as to when a puppet is being used. Still, the film, with its bright colors and scenes of dogs flying with the use of jetpacks, has a cartoon like feel, meaning these slip-ups rarely do enough to break the spell for little ones.
Warner Bros. brings Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore to Blu-ray with an impressive 1.85:1 1080p transfer. There's plenty of pop to the image, with extremely high levels of detail. Deep black levels, combined with strong colors, add to the cartoon feel of the movie, and even parents who find their interest waning will have to admit this is one Blu-ray that really shows off their HD setup. A crystal clear DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack complements the video beautifully. Dialogue is flawless, while the James Bond inspired soundtrack—particularly Shirley Bassey's theme tune—are given plenty of oomph.
For a kids release, which quite often suffer with regards to bonus materials, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore doesn't do too badly. Kicking off the supplementals is the "Dogs Dishing" featurette, which sees the film's canine stars revealing what really went on behind the scenes. Next up, and almost a total waste of time, is "Mash-Up: The Best of the Best Cats vs. Dogs Animated Showdowns," which simply contains a selection of clips from old Looney Tunes and Hannah-Barbera cartoons featuring cats vs. dogs. The "Meow-takes" contains a few outtakes and a gag reel. A welcome addition to the extras is "Coyote Falls," an all-new CGI toon, featuring Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner. Originally shown before the theatrical release of Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, this 3-minute short is the highlight of the set. Finally, we get a shameless plug for the forthcoming Yogi Bear movie. A second DVD contains a standard-def version of the movie, and a digital copy.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore is lightweight stuff, but contains enough thrills and spills to keep young children entertained. Fans of the original should lap this up, while the short running time should mean most parents are able to stomach what is an otherwise forgettable spy spoof.
If you've got young children this is a definite rental, otherwise, leave this one in the pound.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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