Cats & Dogs
Postcard-size paintings authenticated by art historians reveal that dogs make good poker players and cats make excellent physicians. But that’s nothing: In the fanciful comedy Cats & Dogs, a formidable arsenal of computer-assisted puppets and live animals has been assembled to demonstrate that, beneath all the benign animal activity, a battle for world supremacy has been brewing. How long canines retain their edge as Man’s Best Friend depends on whether a power-crazed feline named Mr. Tinkles (voiced by Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes) can rally his cat troops to stage a coup.
The lighthearted silliness of this premise is advanced by the impressive technical work of director Lawrence Guterman (an alumnus of Antz) and the grown men and women who make mecha and orga cats and dogs speak with their little mouths and kickbox with their little paws. The actors voicing these four-legged adversaries — including Tobey Maguire, Susan Sarandon, Joe Pantoliano, and Alec Baldwin — throw themselves into their work with suitable fervor.
There’s just one problem: The plot and script sag like worn-out chew toys just when Cats & Dogs should be in full squeak. Not only isn’t this Babe, it’s not even SNL’s Toonces the driving cat. Poker among this pack, it turns out, makes for a rather tame night out.