Kitty lit­ter louts

Here’s a bark­ing bad kids film – in bor­ing 3D, of course, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews -

SORRY? WHAT now? The very ex­is­tence of this ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble film of­fers fi­nal proof that any old idea, how­ever bad, can over­power all fresh con­cepts in the board­rooms of Hollywood.

It would be in­ter­est­ing to know how the con­ver­sa­tion pro­gressed. “We could re­make Bat­tle­field Earth. Maybe we could poop out a pre­quel to Pluto Nash. Hey, we could make a sum­mer block­buster out of this oil-stained rag from my glove com­part­ment.”

None of the above ideas seems any more ridicu­lous than fash­ion­ing a 3D se­quel to the un­der­whelm­ing Cats and Dogs. A mod­est hit nearly a decade ago, the noisy fam­ily movie, in which evil cats fought jolly dogs, has since drifted into Bank Hol­i­day mati­nee ob­scu­rity.

What­ever lit­tle charm the orig­i­nal pos­sessed has been frit­tered away in an orgy of snark, flash and po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. The NAACP (Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Cat Per­sons) has clearly leant on Warner Bros and en­sured that, this time round, the fe­line con­tin­gent is treated with greater re­spect. Whereas the vil­lain, one Kitty Ga­lore, is, in­deed, of the fur-ball per­sua­sion, the other mog­gies are, var­i­ously, brave, hon­est, loyal and amus­ing.

When Diggs, a po­lice Al­sa­tian, gets caught up in a dan­ger­ous bat­tle with Ms Ga­lore – a hair­less beast voiced by Bette Mi­dler – he is able to call on the ser­vices of an un­der­ground cat move­ment named (cover your eyes) ME­OWS. Dur­ing the con­flict, Diggs makes friends with Cather­ine, a grey cat, but, thank good­ness, the re­la­tion­ship fails to progress be­yond the fra­ter­nal.

The use­less, per­func­tory 3D ef­fects make no at­tempt to con­ceal their ret­ro­spec­tive ori­gins in the post-pro­duc­tion suite. The voice­work is so lack­lus­tre you wouldn’t be sur­prised to learn that it was car­ried out via Skype. And the script would shame the writ­ers of a toi­let duck com­mer­cial.

It would be stretch­ing things to sug­gest that the film has any ideas to share, but the film-mak­ers have clearly set out to pay trib­ute to James Bond. Shirley Bassey (how could you!) turns up to war­ble over a ti­tle se­quence that ac­knowl­edges Mau­rice Binder’s 007 mas­ter­pieces. In a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally tor­tu­ous and point­less joke, Roger Moore voices a cat named Lazenby. And, of course, most pe­cu­liar of all, the vil­lain is al­lowed to bran­dish the name Kitty Ga­lore.

Noth­ing more ad­e­quately demon­strates the film’s messy cyn­i­cism than that last de­ci­sion. Honor Black­man’s char­ac­ter in Goldfin­ger was, of course, called Pussy Ga­lore. Re­move the grubby, misog­y­nis­tic dou­ble en­ten­dre and the name no longer has any rea­son to ex­ist. You can’t have it both ways, folks.

To sum­marise, Cats & Dogs 2 brings us back to an era when film-mak­ers were happy to treat younger view­ers like ir­ri­tat­ing ver­min. Com­pris­ing lazy jokes for grown-ups with lazier gags for kids, the ghastly thing does not de­serve to breath air in a uni­verse that con­tains Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. Happy to re­late, the film flopped in the US, so there is, surely, no chance of a third chap­ter.

Hang on. When did I get to be so naive?

Please don’t tell me I look ridicu­lous: vil­lain­ous Kitty Ga­lore (voiced by Bette Mi­dler)

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