Kitty Porn

Patient: Cats and Dogs

Profile: Talking animals use wacky devices to torture one another. An interesting premise if Looney Tunes hadn't pretty much run it into the ground over the past 70 years. Think Get Smart meets Dumb and Dumber, sniffs Homeward Bound, and diddles on All Creatures Grate and Tiresome.

Symptoms: This movie should pretty much end the debate over Babe's Oscar nomination for Best Picture and forever dispel the notion that just pointing a camera at a talking animal means big laughs. I mean, have we learned nothing from Jerry Lewis? Babe was great because it was a world fully realized by terrific writing and a plot that would have worked with a pig, a person or, perhaps, Jerry Lewis. This movie is as tired as Babe was magical, with tired old plot lines—sad boy rescued by love of good dog, the gruff but lovable mentor hiding a painful secret. It's full of "See, it's funny because an animal said it!" lines such as "Son of my mom!" and "You fight like a poodle!" that play about as fresh as the recycled Banana Splitsdialogue from which they sprang. If this movie was any duller, it'd be in the range of that show where the talking chimp plays a secret agent. Or didn't you see Steven Seagal in Under Siege?

Diagnosis: Derivative of (and not nearly as funny as) things the "Dancing Chicken Standing on a Hot Plate" was doing at truck stops in the '50s.



Prescription: If you're going to make an animal movie, make an animal movie. Babecreated a wholly contained animal world with its own logic and manners, a world humans just happened to stumble into every now and then. If you're going to give us a movie about cats and dogs battling, don't do Tom and Jerry—do it on the large scale: The Longest Day sniffs its own ass. You advertise a premise of cats and dogs in all-out war and then give us a handful of each in a skirmish. The cats don't even seem competent, and their leader sounds like Roddy McDowall wearing ill-fitting shoes. Go big. Large armies of cats and dogs carrying out huge maneuvers spread out over continents under humans' oblivious noses. Give us width and breadth: a Patton that eats its own vomit; a Sands of Iwo Jima that can lick itself.

 
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