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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.87%
Worth A Look35.87%
Average: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 20.65%
Total Crap: 6.52%

6 reviews, 56 user ratings

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Cats and Dogs
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by Collin Souter

"I'm a cat person, I'm a dog person...but I guess I'm not a people person"
3 stars

There comes a point in “Cats and Dogs” where the human characters have all been bound and gagged. Unfortunately, it comes in two-thirds of the way through. It should have happened in the opening scene. Although, come to think of it, the opening scene had me laughing out loud and showed promise for a fiendishly fun summer movie. Then the credits started rolling: Alec Baldwin, Tobey Maguire, Sean Hayes, Jeff Goldblum, etc. I don’t know about you, but seeing the names of the voices for either an animated or a talking-animal movie takes away some of its magic, almost as though the makers have little faith in their concept that they have to lure us in with marquee names. My heart sank a bit. Humans ruin everything.

I’ve been looking forward to “Cats and Dogs” since I saw the trailer for it back in January. The idea of ninja cats fighting secret agent dogs behind the unsuspecting backs of the oblivious humans had me sitting up and pathetically panting, “More…more….more…” And with the exception of “Shrek” and “A.I.,” this summer has had little to keep my eyes from widening shut. So, I’ll gladly take a 90-minute movie of cats and dogs beating the crap out of one another…as long as the humans don’t play that big a part. Just keep them in the background, that’ll be fine.

I came to see some action and some dark satire, I guess. I hoped. While “Cats and Dogs” has some great ideas and some of the biggest laughs of the summer, it unfortunately has a lot of bad ideas and muddled drama involving a boy and his overly-busy dad, Professor Brody, played by Jeff Goldblum in what has to be the worst performance of his career. He basically takes the Rick Moranis role in “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” and adds his own bit of Don Knotts bravura, embarrassing himself in the process. Elizabeth Perkins plays the mother, Mrs. Brody, and she has never looked so bored in her life. And we have Alexander Pollock, who plays 12-year-old Scott Brody who lost his dog to a cat-napping and must now cope with a brand new dog he names “Lou,” as in “Loser.” Here, the movie tries for a “My Dog Skip” sentimentality, which itself should have been skipped.

The movie should have stayed true to what it wanted to be in the first place: Dark, weird, full of gadgetry and warfare, with sprinkles of satire on war with allusions to real-life occurrences and with a wicked and smart sense of humor. You can feel the grip of the studio system tightening the production until it squeezed out all the brains and wit that would have lifted it above the realm of harmless family entertainment. Like last year’s “Dinosaur,” “Cats and Dogs” has greatness in it, but we don’t get to bask in it for very long. It tries to be three things at once: An old-school live-action wacky Disney comedy, a “My Dog Skip,” and in a way, a “Small Soldiers.” Which one of these does not belong with the other?

So, it has laughs, and big ones at that. The flying ninja cats, though a bit distracting since they’ve been entirely computer-generated, make a welcome entrance into the movie just as we begin to lose faith. The Russian Cat burglar who knows all the secret codes to get into the father’s lab and into the house has a hilarious bit when under interrogation. And Mr. Tinkles (voiced by Sean Hayes), the Persian feline fascist hell-bent on obtaining the formula being worked on by Professor Brody that will render every human on earth allergic to dogs, so that cats may rule the world. The way Mr. Tinkles dictates his plan at the end has to be seen to be appreciated. I’m laughing as I think about it.

Naturally, this response would make me recommend this movie, and I suppose you could do worse. I teetered back and forth on whether to give it a 3-star or a 2 ½ (if you have to think about it, it should probably be a 2 ½). I would definitely recommend renting it on video so as to fast-forward through all those pesky talking-human scenes. As for the talking animals, the cats have all the meaty dialogue and appropriate delivery. I’m a cat person, though I have as much respect for my girlfriend’s dog, Matty, in spite of how it treats its toy Gremlin (she likes to mount it…don’t ask). Cats take on the roll of bad guys in this movie and everyone knows that, traditionally, the bad guy holds more of our interest than the good guy. So, I have no problem with cats being portrayed as evil. After all, evil has more fun.

The dogs don’t have quite as much personality. Tobey Maguire voices the role of Lou, the new dog in town unaware of the underground warfare going on in the lily-white suburban neighborhood. Alec Baldwin supplies the voice of Butch, the dog that shows Lou the ins and outs of being a secret agent dog, but who also has little faith Lou can do anything other than chase his tail. Susan Sarandon plays Ivy, a stray dog who befriends Lou, much to the chagrin of Butch. Basically, the two have the same relationship with Lou that the two dogs had with Babe the Pig in the far superior “Babe.” The voices, most of the time, sound too recognizable and stiff.

The movie also makes a huge mistake in breaking down the wall between the talking animals and the humans. Here, the movie completely loses the script. Why let the humans in on the joke? Why let the humans actually see and hear the animals talking? The movie forgets what makes animals so magical and mysterious: They have their world and we have ours.

I guess I’m still teetering a bit. I loved the ending in the warehouse as Mr. Tinkles puts his plan in effect. I loved the cat-napping at the beginning. I loved the obvious Gulf War reference on the canine network news (can you guess the reporter’s name?). I loved a lot of the ideas in this movie and I guess you should probably check it out. But I can’t get past the idea that a classic could have been made, at least for us cult film enthusiasts.
Image how great this movie would have been had Joe Dante* directed it.

(*--In case you don’t know… “Gremlins 1&2,” “The ‘burbs,” “Small Soldiers,” “Matinee,” “Innerspace,” “Explorers,” “The Howling,” and more. See what I mean?)

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originally posted: 07/06/01 22:54:43
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User Comments

10/17/14 chris i agree with you. its a fun concept 3 stars
12/31/09 the dork knight Sieg heil, Mr Tinkles. 3 stars
9/15/09 A. Nonymous Fun for the kiddies... again, FOR THE KIDDIES people! Sheesh 4 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. entertaining and fun :D 4 stars
9/03/08 Shaun Wallner This was a funny movie. 5 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK this must have come out of one of the dogs. it smells funny. 1 stars
2/13/07 johnnyfog Mr Tinkles is the cat version of Stalin! Bad movie otherwise 2 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
12/24/06 David Cohen Cute idea, mediocre execution 3 stars
8/19/06 Spotty boring, dumb. too much 'against-cats-ness'. 1 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Another campy kiddie flick talking animal comedy,w/ lame actors& anti-cat stereotypes. 2 stars
5/20/06 Kcaj Tobey Maguire was funny but the rest was stupid fun 4 stars
1/17/06 hunt This movie was all that great, it was boring compare to many others animal comedies 2 stars
9/05/05 Lenny Wow. The Animals Can Really Talk. Best Movie In The World. 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Betcha Baldwin hates the thought of being reduced to this 1 stars
5/25/05 lily maham dumb 1 stars
2/17/05 DM Funny concept, but way too dumb for anyone except little kids 2 stars
6/19/04 Denise Duspiva okay 3 stars
6/09/03 Clarise So so 3 stars
12/31/02 Angel Sassy I love Mr.Tinkles and Sassy to be togeter and make a movie about them 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum How can you fuck up a great idea like this??? 2 stars
6/01/02 Jiz Not a classic by any stretch, but still funny and original. 4 stars
12/21/01 Mister Char A guilty pleasure to be sure. I enjoyed it and there is cool stuff on the dvd! 5 stars
11/30/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) All except for making cats look bad, the movie is awesome!!!!!!! 4 stars
11/25/01 Butterbean Cute pets, great concept...Loved Mr. Tinkles! But I was a bit disappointed. 3 stars
11/03/01 The Rock BULL SHIT-TOTAL WASTE OF TIME 1 stars
11/03/01 moviegoer what is wrong with you people? this movie was awful besides a few solametheywerefunny jokes 2 stars
10/27/01 ||Dani::O|| Great concept, average execution, SHITTY script for the humans 3 stars
10/20/01 Tam Brilliant animation, but too saccharine for me. Ruined by silly acting. 3 stars
10/02/01 Belinda Spend the 90mins pampering your own pets than sitting through this CRAP. 1 stars
9/29/01 Phoenix It's fitting that the dogs are the good guys and the cats are the bad guys. 4 stars
9/25/01 viking A live action cartoon 4 stars
9/23/01 jason cutter good laughs, but don't confuse yourself that this is a serious film 4 stars
9/19/01 rex dog lover alec baldwin was the down fall. 4 stars
8/21/01 Gary Bird This is deffinately the most coolest film of the year 5 stars
8/20/01 chelsea butcher Brill !!! 4 stars
8/17/01 nargis akbar mr tinkles is the cutest thing in the world 5 stars
8/10/01 L I knew my cat was up to something! And they said I was crazy...I'm not a camel 5 stars
8/09/01 moviegoer I found the movie enjoyable and wonderful for children though not extraordinarily wonderful 4 stars
8/08/01 Scott J. I enjoyed quite a bit. The parodies were fairly good, but the movie lagged ocassionally. 4 stars
8/06/01 Xavier Not bad, especially Toto Inialation, Graphics were very good, Bit Slow in Parts. 4 stars
8/03/01 ginelle i think it was da bomb 4 stars
7/28/01 It was pretty good! Funny, but slow in parts. 4 stars
7/28/01 Turtle It's very cute and funny, but only better than Dr. Dolittle 2 by a bit. 4 stars
7/28/01 Liz Leighton I haven't laughed this hard since I don't know when. Total enjoyment! 5 stars
7/25/01 Heather Worth a look for the great special effects but let down by dumb, predictable plot 4 stars
7/24/01 Julie It was funny and cute 4 stars
7/24/01 SJKelley Clever concept, good execution, fun for kids and adults. 4 stars
7/24/01 sdfk Is the cat from Sabrina jealous? Average but good for kids. 3 stars
7/11/01 The Bomb 69 get the Russian!!! Funny stuff 4 stars
7/08/01 Leon Trotsky Great opening sequence, got lost along the way. Too bad. 3 stars
7/08/01 J Lets just say that I'm agreeing with Roy on this underrated movie. Dog propaganda? Please! 5 stars
7/06/01 Roy Smith Really funny in many places, like Cincinnati. 5 stars
7/06/01 krowdsurf Not as funny as the trailers would have you think, but not terrible either. 3 stars
7/05/01 Paul Meade Very funny, not to corny. The technology and special effects were superior 4 stars
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  04-Jul-2001 (PG)


  20-Sep-2001 (G)

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