Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: James Marsden, Christina Applegate, Nick Nolte, Bette Milder, Katt Williams, Neil Patrick Harris with Chris O’Donnell and Roger Moore
Plot: A failed police dog (Marsden) is recruited into the secret service of dogs, when a scorned cat (Milder) tries to wipe dogs from the Earth.
The Revenge of Kitty Galore is probably one of the most unexpected sequels to come out of the movie universe. The original Cats & Dogs was a fun children’s film, but hardly one that stuck in the memory or set the world on fire. Therefore, when this sequel popped out, nine years after the release of the original, few knew what to expect.
The end result is as muddled as the first film. Those that thought the original was a mix of awkward humour and poor animation will not be wowed by the return of the franchise. As the sequel goes to more absurd plot lines and over-the-top spy mechanics, the animation can be downright shoddy. Kitty Galore is very rarely glimpsed in cat form, most of the time a poor CGI pantomime villain. While the dogs can be trained to handle as much of the action as possible, cats are unruly animals, so while being the more interesting characters, are also the most frustrating to depict on-screen. The dogs however, while able to garner early support, due to scenes when they are actual physical animals, are the ones that are subjected the most stunts. Shocked expressions are badly etched onto their faces out of the blue. While the 2001 entry’s shoddy CGI gets away with a (it’s a decade old – what did we expect?), the new one really should be upgraded. In many ways, Cats & Dogs is the perfect movie to get a fresh lick of paint, the idea golden, but the concept messy to handle. However, with this movie not winning over any doubters, it is unlikely that another sequel, if it ever happens, will get the budget needed to fix this glaring problem. There are other issues too, like a dependency on the past movie. This is a sequel that feels strongest, when breaking away from the ties of the past. James Marsden plays the disobedient German Shepherd, a brand new hero and with a storyline refreshingly different from Tobey Macguire’s Beagle. However, despite the sensation that this sequel is best when escaping the shadows of the past, there are moments where it feels too keen to reference that there was a movie that came before. Old characters are forced into the limelight too often. Lou is now the Chief of the organisation, choosing to be a paper pusher in his old age. The bad guy cats from the past are wedged into the plot for dull reasons. Worst of all, the cast has changed, arguing why the decision was made to bring them back at all. Nick Nolte and Neil Patrick Harris are always welcome in movies, but when they are stealing the roles of Butch and Lou, they kind of awkwardly feature, rather than deliver meaty performances. A few actors return (thankfully including Sean Hayes), but his cameo lacks the bite the character had in the original.
It’s not all bad. Realising that the whole “dogs are programmed to hate cats”, is a little bigoted for a modern day audience, the writers begin to add in hints that just because a character is a cat, doesn’t mean they are inherently evil. The dogs are helped out by Christina Applegate’s cat spy from another agency and Katt Williams’ nervous pigeon (who bizarrely becomes the movie’s most consistent source of jokes). The idea isn’t used as well as it could have been, but it is definitely a nice touch. While the plot is a little lazy children’s film, the spy references hint at the potential in this series. The movie opens with an amusing 007 credits sequence, but consisting of slinky cats, rather than dancing women. There are still a handful of strong puns at play here, like Joe Pantoliano’s cameo as the Q character but for dogs. Roger Moore also cameos as an upper class cat gentleman spy. The joke of the entire film is probably not one for the kids, as the main characters stumble across a den where cats get high on catnip (“the elderly! Terrible enablers!”) If the glaring flaws can be ironed out, there is a chance that Cats & Dogs still has time to be the hit children’s movie franchise. But there needs to be better helpings than this.
Final Verdict: Cat litter death traps aside, Kitty Galore hints that, despite the problems clear in this sequel, there is future in this premise.