Let The Fur Fly

An amusing, though ultimately outlandish, children's movie.

Dogs with super-secret labs and weapons, ninja cats and an ancient enmity - the real world of humankind’s favourite household pets. Or so we are told.

"Cats And Dogs" is all about one of the longest-known battles in the history of humanity. Professor Brody (Goldblum) is working on an antidote for people who are allergic to dogs. Since this is the biggest assignment in Dogkind, he is surrounded by top dog agents. When his dog gets abducted, the dog world sends its best agents as replacements; by a stroke of chance, a real puppy named Lou gets picked. Lou is under the tutelage of Butch (Alec Baldwin), a dog who’s been in the agent business too long.

The cats are all led by Mr. Tinkles, a power-hungry feline who is desperate to rule the world...and get away from his maid, who keeps giving him a bath. He plans a number of nefarious schemes to get rid of Lou and ruin the professor’s work. And when the family is hijacked by the cats and Mr. Tinkles unveils his grand plan to take over the world, Lou is forced to go after them himself. Which leads to a lot of action, gizmos and melodrama, as the dogs attempt to get him and the professor back safely.

The movie is an out-and-out entertainer, so don’t expect complicated plots or excessive attention to rationality. Nevertheless, sufficient effects have been used to give it a polished feel. The whole spy-versus-spy game, taken from a dozen such movies, is well done, and is sure to make some people check their dog’s kennel. Then, there is the whole detailing of the secret world the dogs have built for themselves - it's quite imaginative and lots of fun to watch. The final outcome is to be expected, but the journey is qute enjoyable.

Since most of the action rotates around the animals, the human actors just have to plod along. Jeff Goldblum really needs to get out of the scientist mold (remember "The Fly", "Jurassic Park", ...?) because he’s just about passable in this one. The gorgeous Elizabeth Perkins has little to do except make frustrated faces at her husband and assorted dogs. The real star of the show is Mr. Tinkles, who oozes megalomania and sarcasm in equal portion. You almost feel bad for the poor fella, what with trying to deal with nincompoops for aides and a crazy maid who keeps dressing him up in outlandish costumes. The animals are remarkably well-trained and the special effects add just the right touch without going overboard.

The film should be great fun for kids, but there’s no real cerebral work here. Don’t expect too much and you’ll enjoy it.

This article was first published on 28 Nov 2001.