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Cats & Dogs (PG)
Warner Bros. Pictures
Official Site
Director: Lawrence Guterman
Producer: Andrew Lazar, Chris Defaria, Warren Zide, Craig Perry
Written by: John Requia & Glenn Ficarra
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, Alexander Pollock

Rating: out of 5

Whoopeee! Some movies are just plain fun, and Cats & Dogs wins the prize for fun family movie 2001. Does it keep you in suspense? Not really. Is it a great piece of cinematic history? Probably not. Am I telling my friends to go, despite their mixed feelings about talking animals? You bet!

As the ads have no doubt told you, Cats & Dogs concerns itself with the ancient rivalry. Humans have no idea what their pets are up to, and the pets want to keep it that way, for reasons both noble and nefarious. What might surprise you is just how well this ridiculous setup works in a feel-good way that had the kids cheering at the end. Cat lovers, be warned: This movie definitely picks sides, and yours gets the pointy end of the stick.

Kudos to everyone involved with this picture, especially the writing team, but special appreciation to Jim Henson's Creature Shop, who made the talking, fighting animals so magically realistic. The vocal talent is also top-notch. Alec Baldwin and Tobey Maguire do terrific jobs as Butch and Lou, the old cop-new cop dog team who must protect their humans at all costs. The dogs in general come off very well, actually.

On the cat side, I felt that the writing lacked the depth and subtlety to take the comedy through the roof. There was probably a concerted effort not to rip off Michael Myers, but clearly drawn villains really are more fun. I enjoyed Sean Hayes' maniacal performance as Mr. Tinkles and I could tell what Jon Lovitz was going for with Calico, but it just didn't reach its potential. The real stand-out cat was the Russian kitten, who stole the show in every scene.

The humans also did a fine job, a stereotypically absent-minded professor Jeff Goldblum leading the way, with Alexander Pollock a close second as the boy every puppy would love.

See an early show if you enjoy the sound of kids having a good time, or go late for more mature chuckles, but if you've ever had a pet, known someone who's had a pet, or seen a picture of a creature that may or may not have been a pet, Cats & Dogs is for you.

-Reed Oliver

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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