The movie's title, "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," pretty much tells you the level of its sophistication; it's definitely a children's film. Yet, ironically, its reference to the character in "Goldfinger" will undoubtedly go right over the head of any child. When a film can't even get the title right, you know you're in trouble.
The reason for making this 2010 theatrical release was the success of its 2001 predecessor, "Cats & Dogs," but why the studio took so long to issue a follow-up is anybody's guess. By the time this one came out, most of the first movie's young audience had gotten older and outgrown the premise. Meaning this one was on its own to attract a whole new generation of viewers. It didn't happen; while it did modestly good business, it was so expensive to make, it lost half its production cost at the box office.
You may remember the story idea: Cats and dogs are smarter than humans imagine; they can not only think for themselves in highly abstract terms, they can speak perfect English as well. What's more, they have developed technologies far beyond what humans have accomplished, and they use them in secret to plot against one another and against anybody else the screenwriters can think of to involve.
This time out, the humans take a complete backseat to the animals, so don't expect a Jeff Goldblum or an Elizabeth Perkins to show up. In fact, about the only humans of note are Chris O'Donnell as a San Francisco police officer, Paul Rodriguez as a nutty used-car dealer, and Jack McBrayer as a useless magician. But they are hardly in the picture for longer than a few minutes. No, this time it's up to the cats and dogs of the title to carry the show, which they mostly don't.
The movie is largely a parody of the Bond film "Goldfinger," with Bette Midler voicing the part of Kitty Galore, complete with a "Goldfinger" type theme song and opening-titles sequence. Kitty is a really ugly, hairless feline determined to take over the world. The only thing stopping her is the DOG network, headed up by Tab Lazenby (Roger Moore doing a spoof of his Bond counterpart, George Lazenby, another gag that will totally escape most youngsters), his chief agent, Butch (Nick Nolte), and a new recruit from the San Francisco Canine Corps, Diggs (James Marsden). Before long, they discover that Kitty is not actually working with the cats of the world but against them, so they team up with M.E.O.W.S (Mousers Enforcing Our World Safety) to stop her. Yes, we've got dogs and cats operating together, a new twist. What's next: Dogs and cats living together? Where's Bill Murray when we need him?
Diggs is the star of the movie, but it's really the voice characterizations that carry the show, and Marsden is only so-so. Nolte and Midler are the most distinctive voices, and Katt Williams as Seamus, a pigeon functioning as Donkey did in "Shrek," steals every scene he's in. Thank goodness, too, because he's the funniest thing about an otherwise dreary movie.
In further supporting roles we hear from Christina Applegate as Catherine, a cat helping out the team of dogs; Neil Patrick Harris as Lou, the head of the DOG network; Sean Hayes returning as Mr. Tinkles, now locked up in Alcatraz like Hannibal from "Silence of the Lambs"; Michael Clarke Duncan returning as Sam, the big, shaggy dog; Joe Pantoliano returning as Peek; and Wallace Shawn now as Calico.
Diggs, the star, is a klutz who can't follow orders and always fouls up; thus, most of the script has him doing dumb things that kids will probably enjoy. The action is cute, to be sure, but the cuteness wore off quickly for this adult.
You can easily see the movie cost a fortune to make; it's loaded with elaborate sets and extensive gimmickry, animatronics , and CGI. It's too bad there wasn't a commensurate script to go with all the whizbang hardware.
The movie, set in San Francisco, even manages to waste most of the City's scenic location shots, a neat trick. Then, there's an ending that goes on forever. I tell you, if it weren't for the pigeon, the whole ordeal would have been painful. Come to think of it, it was still painful.
There is nothing amiss in the video department as Warner Bros. do up the video splendidly, using a single-layer BD25 and an unexpected MPEG-4 AVC codec to reproduce the film's 1.85:1 dimensions. Colors show up brightly and deeply, with fairly good clarity and strong black levels. Indeed, the blacks are almost too strong at times. A very thin veneer of natural film grain provides a film-like quality to the image; otherwise, the screen is exceptionally clean. There is some softening of delineation in a few scenes, but it's not enough to warrant objection. And even though much of the movie takes place indoors or outdoors at night, shadow detail is quite good.
Using a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, WB engineers provide a dynamic sonic experience, with a nice bloom in the surrounds and eventually some effective action noises as well. But wait for it, as there is not a lot going on in the side or back channels for the first twenty minutes or so. There is also a powerful bass when necessary, making the picture and sound qualities the standouts of the production.
The first three items on the disc menu are exclusive to the Blu-ray disc: The featurette "Dogs Dishing: Tails from the Bark Side of Hollywood" is a nine-minute affair wherein the animals stars tell us about the filming in spoofing good form; "The Best of the Best Cat vs. Dog Animated Showdowns" is four minutes combining classic Looney Tunes chase sequences with ones in the present movie; and "Meow-Takes" is three minutes of staged outtakes and gags. After that, we get the disc's best item, the all-new Looney Tunes cartoon "Coyote Falls," with Wile E. and Roadrunner. It's beautifully animated, with excellent sound, and, frankly, I'd rather have watched eight-two minutes of this stuff than the feature film. Finally, there is a three-minute, behind-the-scenes Sneak Peek at the new "Yogi Bear" theatrical film.
Because this is a Comb Pack, it includes not only the Blu-ray edition of the movie, but a standard-definition version on DVD and a digital copy for iTunes and Windows Media (the offer expiring November 14, 2011). In addition, we get ten scene selections; a slipcover with a lenticular cover; English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish spoken languages; French, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
Parents with young children may find some delight in the film. The kids may take pleasure in the silly actions of the animals, while mom and dad may appreciate the games they can play of spot-the-movie-reference or spot-the-famous-actor's-voice. This adult, however, found little joy in any of it.