If happiness is a warm puppy, then the film Cats & Dogs is downright ecstatic. It s clearly made by dog people, though with a keen appreciation for the feline attitude.
The film, which uses real dogs and cats (in addition to puppets and computer animation and surely a whole lot of patience), is a real kid-pleaser. Dogs soar through the air and cats drive cars. And since animals can t really complain, the filmmakers take advantage of strict stereotypes. Dogs are loyal, whereas cats have their own agenda. That agenda, as set forth in this film, is to control the world. Long ago, cats ruled over humans. That reign was destroyed by those humans dogs, who chased the cats away. Some thousands of years later, it s payback time. At the fore is Mr. Tinkles (voiced by Sean Hayes), a fluffy white cat with a pink, heart-shaped nose and a nasty disposition aggravated by a caretaker who thrills at dressing him in bonnets and bows.
Enter Lou (Tobey Maguire), a beagle puppy with a yen for adventure and the good luck to be adopted by Mrs. Brody (Elizabeth Perkins). Mrs. Brody s husband, Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum), is busily perfecting a cure for people allergic to dogs, clearing the way for anyone who wants to pick up a pooch without fear of runny noses and puffy eyes. Great news for dogs, though the Brodys son Scott (Alexander Pollock) couldn t care less about Lou and just wishes his father would spend more time with him.
If you re getting the feeling that there s a lesson to be learned here, you d be right. But first, Mr. Tinkles must stop Professor Brody from completing his formula, and the dogs must stop Mr. Tinkles from stopping Professor Brody. And while the dogs get the morals, the cats are the true stars of the show. Ninja cats approach the Brody home and parachute in for attack; a Russian cat spits up an arsenal of hairballs; and Mr. Tinkles gets all the best lines ( Be still, so I can crush you ). Comparatively, the dogs are rather dull: Butch (Alec Baldwin), a canine operative and bitter ex-pet, and Sam (Michael Clarke Duncan), a sheepdog who can t see because of the hair in his eyes. Yawn, stretch.