On the continuum of cute kiddie fantasy films, CATS AND DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE falls somewhere in the middle, leaning toward the low end of the spectrum. It is nowhere near as bad as this year’s woefully unfunny FURRY VENGEANCE or last year’s abysmally awful G-FORCE, nor is it quite as disappointing as the original CATS & DOGS (2001). On the other hand, CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE is no match for BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA (2008), nor is it even close to being in the same league with recent delights such as TOY STORY 3 and DESPICABLE ME. Kids will probably get a kick out of the animal antics, but their parents will likely be bored, despite occasionally witty touches obviously added with adults in mind.
CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE has police pooch Diggs (voiced by James Marsden) flunk out of his gig due to an excess of enthusiasm and a failure to follow orders. Fortunately, Diggs is recruited by the super-secret canine spy organization introduced in the previous CATS & DOGS movie. This time out, the culprit is Kitty Galore (voiced by Bette Midler), who wants to unleash “The Call of the Wild,” a super-sonic sound that will turn dogs against their masters and allow the feline hordes to take their place as man’s best friend. Diggs, partnered with an experienced operative named Butch (Nick Nolte) and a cat named Catherine (voicd by Christina Applegate), sets out to foil Kitty’s evil plans.
Not surprisingly, the story is mostly an excuse to string together sight gags; unfortunately, few of these are laugh-out-loud funny. Overall, the writing is weak: jokes set up punchlines that fall flat, and you’re constantly reminded that you’re supposed to be laughing – even though you barely crack a grin. More often than not, the screenplay relies on a concept to generate humor (like dressing a villainous cat in a Hannibal Lecter get-up) without much regard for doing anything actually funny with the concept.
With production design, opening credits, and a title song (sung by Shirley Bassey, no less) that deliberately evoke the James Bond films (Roger Moore even provides one of the voices), CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE is clearly sending a shout out to adults in the audience. One particularly nice touch is the teaming up of canine and feline to fight the common enemy, which recalls the Moore-era Bond films (like THE SPY WHO LOVED ME) wherein 007 wound up cooperating with his Soviet counterparts. Sadly, the climax of this suplot (Catherine overcomes her fear of water to save Diggs) is casually tossed off midway through the film instead of being integrated into the final reel as a major set-piece.
The special effects for the animal lip-sync is adequate, but fifteen years after BABE, it is amazing to note how little progress has been made. That 1995 film still stands as the unbeatable example of animal anthropomorphism, thanks to its perfect integration of special effects, clever dialogue, and solid vocal performances.
Although an improvement over its predecessor, CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE is another disappointment – an amusing concept that yields a film unable to equal its own trailer.
CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE (July 30, 2010). Directed By Brad Peyton. Written by Ron J. Friedman & Steve Bencich, based on characters created by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra. Cast: James Marsden (voice), Nick Nolte (voice), Christina Applegate (voice), Katt Williams (voice), Neil Patrick Harris (voice), (Sean Hayes (voice), Wallace Shawn (voice), Roger Moore (voice), Michael Clarke Duncan (voice), Joe Pantoliano (voice), Chris O’Donnell.