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