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Jeff Goldblum
Elizabeth Perkins
Alexander Pollock
Tobey Maguire
Sean Hayes
Alec Baldwin
Susan Sarandon.
Lawrence Guterman.
John Requa
Glenn Ficarra.
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87 minutes

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Cats and Dogs
Those ancient enemies, cats and dogs, do battle in this kids' flick

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Mr. Tinkles, a despot cat, is scheming to interfere in Prof. Brody's work on a cure for dog allergies. After the cat-napping of the Brodys' dog, a worldwide canine organisation arranges for a secret agent pup to be infiltrated into the family, but Mrs. Brody picks Lou, an untrained beagle, instead. Retaliating, Mr. Tinkles sends cat ninjas to attack Brody and conquer the world.

Cats & Dogs has an irresistibly funny idea, cross-breeding the talking animals of Babe with the retro-Bond skittery of Spy Kids, and at its best, it delivers charm and laughs, with miraculous use of trained pets, animatronics, CGI and fake faces on real animals to make an entire cast of felines and canines come to life.

There is solid voicework from Tobey Maguire as Lou, the ordinary pup who yearns for adventure but learns that all he needs is the love of a human master, with Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon gruff and sly as Buddy and Ivy, the veteran agent dogs. But the runaway success of the film is the fluffy megalomaniac Mr. Tinkles, voiced by Sean Hayes and benefitting from amazingly detailed and expressive fur and whisker-work.

The human characters are less fully-realised, with gawky eccentric Goldblum and briskly mommish Perkins well aware that their scenes without the animals are potential fast-forward fodder, and Pollock is a cookie-cutter cute-but-neglected kid (traumatised because Dad doesn't show up for his soccer try-outs) whose dialogue consists of exclamations like "cool!" and "sucks!"

The script has the feel of something that's been overcrafted, with all the characters stuck with positive and empowering arcs, and homilies to family values delivered as the score burbles in that way that is supposed to warm the heart but tends to turn the stomach. Setting itself up as a dog film, it's the sort of movie that prefers dumb doggedness over catty wit, though the cat characters tend to get all the big laughs, and there's even a wonderful, Nuremberg rally-style finish with a horde of quisling mice and terrific stuntwork.

It doesn't have the attitude that makes, say, Toy Story or Mouse Hunt play to adults as well as kids, and there are scenes which could have come from a Beethoven sequel. But with the spy stuff - dogs and cats doing kung fu, tossing killer gadgets or zooming through a canine Bond base — it’s hard not to gurgle with something close to childish joy.

Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Cats and Dogs
Empire Star Rating

Great Childrens Comedy

There's not a chance in hell that this will appeal to all adults as phenomenally appeals to its' child market, but for those of us for whom childhood was not long ago, it's a fun and undeniably cool four-legged actioner with some great comedy and some hilarious voice acting. Definitely a winner with the kids, but for adults; you may want to look elsewhere ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:09, 26 March 2011 | Report This Post

I like it

This is the first film I ever remember seeing in a cinema, so I guess it might be a guilty pleasure, but it entertains. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by typewriter at 18:58, 15 July 2010 | Report This Post

Pretty good

This was one of the most enjoyable movies of my child-hood I still find it rather cool ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by !xHoTRoDx! at 19:19, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post

A guilty pleasure

Cats and dogs is a film which I sorry to say I love, the animal acting is amazing and the CGI is flawless, the voice acting is brilliant with Sean Hayes stealing the show as Mr Tinkles, though the plot and the script may not be up there with the likes of other animated films like shrek or toy story, but seeing the cats do kung fu or seeing the cats all sitting around the table whilst Mr Tinkles talks about his master plan will not fail to bring a smile to your heart no matter how old you are. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Roaty at 20:18, 20 August 2008 | Report This Post

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