Top positive review
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Relentlessly funny, successful family feature!
on October 19, 2001
In "Cats and Dogs," perhaps the best family film of the year, you'll get a healthy dose of hearty laughs, humorous jokes, and purr-fect fun. Combining live action animals with special effects and puppets, the movie is not as amusing for its technical wizardry as it is for its grandiose amount of wonderful, lighthearted comedy that is as fluffy as its Persian antagonist. Quite simply, the movie gave me the feeling of being a kid all over again.
In a classic role reversal, the movie plays the dogs as our heroes, while the much-beloved feline is the vicious villain. The plot needs little explanation: scientist Brody (Jeff Goldblum) is out to discover a cure for human allergic reactions to dogs. This, of course, has our feline fiends just waiting to get their hands on the finished product in hopes of reversing the process and taking over the world.
Led by Mr. Tinkles (voiced with a delightfully cocky wit by actor Sean Hayes), the cats wage an all-out war against the dogs trying to prevent their plans from success. This includes Lou (voiced by Tobey Maguire), who has become the new pet to Brody's son; his inexperience as an agent makes him a prime target for assault, though his comrades, led by the stern Butch (voiced by Alec Baldwin), offer him help and guidance in the ways of becoming an agent.
To dismiss the film on the basis of its special effects and plot logic is utterly ridiculous. The movie is a shining example of what it is: a successful children's film that is pleasing in every way imaginable. It features some of the funniest dialogue of the year, which is appealing more to understanding adults, while the non-stop camera movements, cheesy effects, and delightful characters will no doubt carry children along on its wild ride.
I found myself laughing uncontrollably with the film, watching such pranks as ninja cats wearing night-vision goggles, a cat coughing up bombs disguised as fur balls, and the best of them all, featuring Mr. Tinkles falling prey to the plump maid of his owner, who dresses him up in lacy outfits ("Evil does not wear a bonnet! Did Genghis Khan ever wear a bonnet?"). It's all in the interest of tickling our fancy, and I must say, I laughed uncontrollably.
Though actors Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, and Alexander Pollock do impressive work as the human family, they cannot hold a candle to the voice actors who supply the dialogue for our friends in fur, including Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Michael Duncan Clarke, Joe Pantoliano, and the great Charlton Heston. Each of the characters is voiced magnificently by their actor, though none so brilliant as Sean Hayes, who is a real hoot as Mr. Tinkles. His devilish wit and impressive voice talent are amusing, a Dr. Evil for the younger set, if you will.
To call "Cats and Dogs" anything but good, clean fun only proves the cynicism of adulthood. The movie is one of the most enthusiastic and energetic films of the genre I've seen in quite a while, a cross between the animal physicalities of "Homeward Bound" and the technical spy intelligence of the "James Bond" films. This is the ultimate definition of "cute," and is nothing short of total, complete fun.