Sneak Peak - The Plot
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The movie opens up with what else - innocently - a dog chasing a cat. Up and down, in and out, all around, we watch as the dog and cat toy with each other. Seems like a normal day in Kansas, right Dorothy? Ahem. Not at all. We're about to enter the Double Secret Covert Operation of Cats and Dogs.
You see, ever since the beginning of time, cats and dogs have wagered war against each other. Dogs, as man's best friend, have protected the interest of humans while cats just want to rule the world.
A power hungry persian cat, Mr. Tinkles (Sean Hayes), gets a little greedy and decides that it's time to dominate the world. There's just a small problem. A scientist - Professor Brody (Jeff Goldblum), is mixing up an antidote to free himself from dog allergies. He is thisclose to succeeding. If more people owned dogs, cats would lose any hopes that they had at being #1.
Scott Brody (Alexander Pollock), the owner of the dog that we just watched chase that cat, is sad. His dog is missing. Presumed as a runaway. (But we know - better - he was CATNAPPED!)
The dog council, determined to protect both the Brody family and their best interest, work on making sure that the next dog owned by Scott, can adequately protect all of them.
Enter the cutest little beagle dog you've seen in a long time. He's in the right place, at the right time. Mrs. Brody (Elizabeth Perkins), looking to replace the dog that she thinks has run away, has her heart stolen by this little pup.
The pup named Lou (Tobey Maquire), is brought home and thrown into the adventure. Befriended by the more senior agent dog, Butch (Alec Baldwin), he does his best to aid in saving mankind and protecting his fellow four-legged friends.
Writing: Kudos to Freshman writers John Requa & Glenn Ficarra for coming up with a fresh approach to a good guy/bad guy storyline. Using animals as the main characters in a film, is always a risky thing. The balance between human and animal interaction worked. The humans didn't come across nearly as stupid as they could have been. As a human, I appreciate that ;).
Special Effects: I'm not a technical chick but I was very impressed with the special effects of the movie. When a dog or cat was talking, their mouths matched the words. It was amazing! (Yes, it doesn't take much to impress me.) When I looked at the names of the individuals credited for special and visual effects, they have quite a variety of experiences with television, film, and animation. An overlooked crowd with the consumer, we really should remember just how brilliant these people are at pulling off the impossible.
Voices: I remember a time when actors thought that being seen was more important than being heard. Thank gawd that it's cool to be in movies like this where only your voice is heard. Tobey McGuire was perfect as the cute adventurous pup, Lou. And to my surprise, Alec Baldwin was fantastic as senior dog dude, Butch. Really Alec, this was MUCH better than Pearl Harbor.
Some of the other people who lent their voices were Susan Sarandon, the ever funny Jon Lovitz, and Michael Clarke Duncan.
A special note about Sean Hayes. Should the man ever leave the popular Will and Grace I feel confident in saying that he has another life in film. He had oodles of charisma as the evil Mr. Tinkles.
The Could Have Been Improved
Editing: I'm gonna say it here instead of in the writing because me thinks it was probably there in the writing. Two of the characters, Ivy and Butch, have a past that is only hinted at. It gets explored for all of four seconds and then is dropped. Me thinks that this relationship was the result of film hitting the floor in order to cut down the run time.
Pacing: My only one major criticism of the movie is that I didn't feel like it moved quickly enough in the beginning. And then towards the end, we seemed to be in overdrive. I understand the importance of leading up with a good, thorough story, I just think Mr. Director (Lawrence Guterman) you could have done it differently and thus better.
It seems like Family Films are suddenly back in style this year. If you've caught Spy Kids and Shrek, most likely, you'll want to see this too.
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