Cats & Dogs (Blu-ray)
I have two golden retrievers and a border collie of my own and as cute as they were as puppies, even I have to admit that there is nothing cuter than a Beagle puppy. The CATS AND DOGS filmmakers knew this as well, which is why they chose a Beagle puppy as the star of the film. Just like in real life, a puppy’s uber-cuteness makes it hard to be mad or frustrated with him/her for very long and the cuteness spewing from this film makes it hard to be aggravated with the lackluster filmmaking.
While watching it, the biggest question that popped into my mind was; why hasn’t this been done before? The idea of crafting an entire film that pits dogs and cats against each other is so obvious, I’m surprised Hollywood hasn’t already milked it to death. In this film, they’ve created a world where dogs are kind of the “G.I. Joes” and cats are the “Cobras”. When you boil it down, that’s essentially what this is, just with more fur.
The plot is straight out of your typical spy/action movie where a young Beagle pup (voiced wonderfully by Tobey Maguire) is thrust into the secret agent world when he gets mistakenly chosen by a family. Reluctantly, the seasoned vet (voiced by Alec Baldwin) trains the young rookie to protect a formula the pup’s master is working on that would cure all dog allergies. Unfortunately for all of them, Mr. Tinkles is out for that formula, but for his own evil plans. This is not a complicated premise, it’s really just an excuse to get cute dogs and cute cats together for 90 minutes.
I really appreciated the inclusion of so many subtle inside dog and cat jokes. I loved the play on the different stereotypes for each animal and got a kick out of seeing how they used the animal’s habits in the spy world. I only wish they had done more of it and focused more on the intelligent subtleties and leave the childish slapstick out. There’s a surprisingly fun film here, but sometimes it gets lost in the unnecessary silliness. But like I mentioned earlier, some of the film’s shortcomings can be forgiven because the animals are so darn cute. That’s a positive for those of us that love animals, but I’m not sure non-animal lovers will be so kind.
Even though some of this will make a lot of adults roll their eyes, there are enough puns and funny bits that will keep the interest peaked. Sean Hayes does a fantastic job voicing Mr. Tinkles, who alone is worth the price of admission. If you have little ones and you want something to keep their (and your) attention for 90 minutes, CATS & DOGS is a safe bet.
When CATS AND DOGS first came out on DVD, there was no widescreen edition. For some reason, Warner Brothers didn’t release the widescreen version for many months later. So a lot of you might never have seen the widescreen version of the film.
Video: The eventual widescreen DVD wasn’t bad, but this is a notable upgrade for the film.
Audio: The audio was also a significant upgrade
Commentary with Lawrence Guterman, James Bissell, Chris DeFaria and Sean Hayes: I imagine that working with animals is a very difficult and challenging feat and I was happy to hear the director and producers talk about the difficulties revolved around filming an entire film with animals. Sean Hayes was a little out of place, but he offered up some humorous tidbits that helped keep the track rolling.
HBO First Look (15:03): This is just an extended commercial for the film. Some First Look’s have a lot of behind the scenes footage, but this one had more movie clips than anything.
Teaching a New Dog New Tricks (5:58): This is a great featurette, although a bit short. But they talk to the dog trainer about how they got the dogs to do various stunts and behave naturally. They also go into the different CGI effects that were used. Well worth the 5 minute investment.
Dog’s Rule (:52): A quick montage of various scenes from the film featuring dogs.
Mr. Tinkles Screen Test (1:37): This is a silly montage of Mr. Tinkles acting out various scenes from famous movies.
Mr. Tinkles Speech (1:10): Mr. Tinkles gives a speech about the state of the film industry. Pretty funny, but not sure who this was for.