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Lawrence Guterman
Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, Tobey Maguire, Alexander Pollock, Miriam Margolyes, Myron Natwick, Doris Chillcott, Alec Baldwin
Writing Credits:
John Requa, Glenn Ficarra

Things Are Gonna Get Hairy!

They're cunning. They're stealthy. They're waging a top-secret, ultra-high-tech struggle for global domination right under our noses. They'reÖCats & Dogs! Witness this epic "tail" of what happens when an eccentric professor (Jeff Goldblum) makes a discovery that could tip the ago-old balance of pet power. Now, an inexperienced young beagle pup named Lou (voiced by Tobey Maguire) is about to begin the ultimate mission im-paws-ible: to save humanity from a total cat-tastrophe! Featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Jon Lovitz, Charlton Heston and Sean Hayes.

Box Office:
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$21.707 million on 3040 screens.
Domestic Gross
$93.375 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Latin Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Castilian Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 7/20/2010

• Audio Commentary With Director Lawrence Guterman, Producer Chris DeFaria, Production Designer James Bissell and Actor Sean Hayes
• "HBO First Look: The Making of Cats & Dogs" Featurette
• "Teaching a New Dog New Tricks" VSFX Comparison
• Storyboard Comparisons
• "Mr, Tinkles Audition Tape"
• "Dogs Rule" Featurette
• "Mr. Tinklesí Speech"
• Concept Sketches
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Cats & Dogs [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 15, 2010)

On the surface, the concept behind Cats & Dogs seemed inspired. The film proposed to depict the eternal struggle between the two species, and it appeared to be a "canít miss" prospect. Millions of folks embrace dogs but not cats, and vice versa; even those who like both animals almost always have a distinct preference. Personally, I think cats are nice critters, but I strongly favor dogs, even when they do dumb things like bark at The Grinch.

However, Cats & Dogs wasnít quite what I expected. For one, I thought the filmmakers would skirt the issue of a true victor or hero/villain structure. I figured this would be some sort of battle for the hearts of humans, but instead it takes on a James Bond feeling.

At the start of the film, we learn that the war for pet domination has gone on for centuries, but dogs are close to a potential victory. Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum) has almost perfected a drug thatíll cure all dog-related allergies. With that obstacle out of the way, dog lovers who had to get cats can embrace their true desires, and no one will like felines anymore.

Of course, that theory depends on the idea that only those with dog allergies get cats, which isnít true, but nonetheless, thatís where the movie goes. The cats - as led by Mr. Tinkles (voice of Sean Hayes) - do their best to stop Brodyís efforts, while a squad of dogs relies on new initiate Lou (Tobey Maguire) to stop them. Itís a high tech battle for supremacy that involves the animals in all sorts of unusual situations.

I was surprised that the film so overtly posited cats as villains. However, I also expected that Budweiser would have there be a tie between Bud and Bud Light in the original Bud Bowl, so what do I know? (I figured they didnít want one product to seem better than the other.) Despite the cartoonish depictions - Mr. Tinkles is Blofeldís cat without Blofeld himself - the movie definitely emerges into a fight between good and evil, and the dogs are clearly placed on the side of all thatís right.

Fine with me! However, the movie itself isnít so successful. For one, I never really bought a lot of the computer animation, and the more I see CGI, the less I like it. Though it can be used fairly effectively, much of the time computer elements come across as very artificial and cheesy.

Thatís true in 2010, so it was even more obvious in 2001. Cats & Dogs has some good effects, and I have to respect its ambitions, especially for its era. It places the critters in so many freaky positions that itíd kill Mr. Ed just to think about it; Babeíd probably have a stroke as well if he saw how far these elements had come.

Nonetheless, there is a thing as too much ambition, and thatís where Dogs goes astray. Facial animation causes the greatest concerns, as the various expressions in tend to be insanely hyperactive. Animal faces seem to be in perpetual motion, and they go far beyond the boundaries of believability. I recognize this is a fantasy movie that goes for a cartoony feel, but this is too much; it becomes hard to accept the animals as anything other than phony because their faces move so wildly.

The simple Bond rehash of a plot doesnít help matters; Dogs might have worked better had it stayed more realistic. Itís fine to indulge in some fantasy elements, and itís really a necessity for this kind of film. However, the whole spy aspect of the tale takes it too far, and it makes the movie less effective than it might have been if it stayed on a smaller scale.

On the positive side, Hayes does a terrific job as Mr. Tinkles. Actually, since Iím a dog man, it pains me to say this, but the cat scenes are usually very entertaining, while the canine material seem somewhat dull. Villains are usually more fun, so the filmmakers clearly had more room to goof around with the cats, but Iím still surprised to see such a wide disparity between the two sides of the movie.

Hayes helps make the cat portions so entertaining - and the filmís second half moves much more briskly - largely because it provides a greater focus on the cat shenanigans. Hayesí vocal performance is absolutely superb, as he infuses the mega-villain wannabe with the right sense of arrogance and nastiness while he maintains an excellent feeling of silliness. He allows the film to become very fun at times.

Unfortunately, much of Cats & Dogs seems pedestrian at best. The storyline never really catches fire, and the awkward effects donít allow me to lose myself in the action; I always feel very aware that Iím watching trickery. Ultimately, Cats & Dogs has some fun moments but it doesnít qualify as much of a movie.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Cats & Dogs appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. A mix of ups and downs made this a fairly mediocre transfer.

Most of the problems related to sharpness. While most shots displayed good clarity, more than a few exceptions occurred, as quite a few soft sequences emerged. Some of these seemed to stem from the movieís heavy usage of visual effects, but that didnít explain all of the tentativeness; plenty of standard images of humans appeared strangely fuzzy. Most of the flick remained reasonably precise, but too many iffy scenes appeared.

I discerned no edge enhancement, and no issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred. Print flaws remained modest. I noticed a couple of small specks, but nothing more prominent appeared.

Colors looked good, as the movie featured a bright and varied palette. The different tones usually came across as distinct and vivid, though the awkward visual compositing occasionally made them appear a little bland. Still, they mostly worked well. Black levels seemed deep and rich, and shadow detail normally looked appropriately heavy without any excessive opacity, though I thought a couple of low-light sequences appeared slightly too dim; this seemed to be another outgrowth of the visual effects. Enough of the movie looked good to merit a "C+" grade, but the inconsistencies made it less than stellar.

I felt more positive about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Cats & Dogs. Since the movie essentially sticks with action-adventure themes, I expected a fairly active mix, and it didnít disappoint me. The front spectrum showed a nice array of audio, as music displayed solid stereo separation, and effects seemed to be well placed. This localization showed good integration and blending; elements moved efficiently and accurately across the channels, and they appeared to mesh cleanly.

As for surround usage, it stuck with general reinforcement for a substantial portion of the movie, but the rears came to life well when necessary. The action sequences showed solid surround elements. For example, the scene with the Russian stealth cat was a nice little showcase, and a lot of the other battle sequences also displayed good involvement and vividness.

Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue fit with the action well, and speech sounded natural and distinct throughout the film, with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music demonstrated good range, as the score appeared vibrant and bright with positive low-end response. Effects also came across as accurate and dynamic; they lacked distortion or flaws and showed solid bass. Ultimately, Cats & Dogs provided a very solid soundtrack that worked well for the material.

Most of the extras from the 2001 DVD reappear here. Some DVDs become better known for what they were supposed to include than what actually made the cut, and Cats & Dogs fell into that club. Earlier reports indicated the original DVD would provide two commentaries: one from the "dogs" and one from the "cats". This doesnít occur, but some vestiges of the original plan remain.

When the track starts, weíre told that weíll hear from the canine point of view; a note that weíll get the feline perspective quickly follows this remark. My guess is that two different tracks were prepared, but they werenít sufficiently compelling on their own and they were combined into one piece.

Of course, thatís just my personal theory, but it makes sense given the weird introductions. Itís also supported by the structure of the audio commentary. We have four participants: director Lawrence Guterman, producer Chris DeFaria, production designer James Bissell, and actor Sean Hayes. The first three were recorded together, while Hayes sat alone, and his statements were edited into the piece. Not surprisingly, this means that the threesome dominates the commentary; Hayes appears infrequently, though he adds some useful notes about the rigors of voice recording at times.

However, the track would work fine without him, for DeFaria, Guterman and Bissell prove to be a very entertaining group. They cover a myriad of topics, from effects challenges to story changes to working with animals to many other subjects. They make fun of the film to a degree and demonstrate a nice sense of humor about the project. Little of the standard happy talk appears here; while they seem positive about the film, they donít relate a fawning, overly praise-oriented attitude. Overall, this was a surprisingly terrific track. I came away with much more respect for the film and its creators and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

We get the ubiquitous HBO First Look special that covers the movie. Hosted by Sean Hayes, this 13-minute and 55-second piece provides the usual mix of movie snippets, shots from the set, and interviews with participants. In regard to the latter, we hear from a large number of folks. Comments appear from actors Hayes, Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, Tobey Maguire, and Susan Sarandon, director Guterman, producers DeFaria and Andrew Lazar, visual effects supervisors Ed Hayes and Bill Westenhofer, animal stunt coordinator Boone Narr, lead animal trainer Mark Harden, animatronics supervisor David Barclay, puppeteer Micha Sisti, and animatronics producer Sally Ray.

Whew - thatís a lot of folks for a show that runs less that 14 minutes! Not surprisingly, the level of detail found here is quite low, as the program rushes through topics quite briskly. The focus remains almost entirely on the technical processes, from voice recording to all of the effects work. Despite its superficiality, I thought the piece wasnít bad for its genre. I saw a lot of interesting tidbits that may have flown by too quickly, but at least it offered more than just the standard promotional fare. Yes, it did try to sell us on the movie, but it contained a reasonable amount of contest.

Additional notes about the filmís technical side appear in Teaching a New Dog New Tricks. This five-minute and 55-second featurette concentrates solely on the creation and integration of the animals into the movie. As such, we hear from some folks seen in the "First Look": DeFaria, Guterman, Narr, Jones, Ray, as well as a new person, lead animator Alison Leaf. Essentially, this show simply complements the material found in the "First Look", as it adds some decent details about the visual effects and the live animals. It remains superficial, but it seems entertaining and moderately informative.

Storyboard Comparisons gives us a glimpse of the scene in which the ninja cats invade the house. It shows the final film in the top right of the screen, while the boards appear in the lower left. I thought the images were too small; theyíd be more effective if they were larger. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the two minutes and 40 seconds worth of footage, mainly because the cartoony storyboards were fun to see.

Originally included as Easter eggs, some additional features remain a little hidden Ė but not very, especially since theyíre also mentioned on the Blu-rayís case. Click to the right on the Special Features page and youíll find 97 seconds of Mr. Tinklesí Screentest Footage. We observe "audition" reels in which the kitty tries out for flicks like On the Litterfront and Apocalypse Meow. Itís insubstantial but cute.

Another click to the right takes us to a 52-second highlight reel of some of the dogsí best moments from the film entitled Dogs Rule. The next egg appears farther right and youíll see a funny alternate version of Mr. Tinklesí Speech. In the 76-second reel, Hayes goes on about how bad most movies are, and essentially relates that Mr. Tinkles will be the biggest star of the year. He was wrong, but itís entertaining nonetheless. Lastly, a final click to the right gets you 15 Concept Sketches created for the movie.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and a Galore Nintendo DS video game. No trailer for the original Dogs appears.

Cats & Dogs reached a decent audience in the summer of 2001 with its special effects trickery and modestly amusing James Bond spoofery. Parts of the movie entertained me, mostly thanks to a terrific vocal performance by Sean Hayes, but the film as a whole seemed less than scintillating. The Blu-ray provides very good audio and some supplements highlighted by a strong commentary, but picture quality seems mediocre. Dogs provides acceptable family entertainment, but the Blu-ray doesnít offer a huge step up in quality over its DVD predecessor, largely due to visual inconsistencies.

To rate this film visit the original review of CATS & DOGS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main