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Blu-ray Review: Cats & Dogs

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Throughout the whole history of moving pictures, the “kiddie” film genre has always been one that was a guaranteed “win” for filmmakers looking to make a buck or two off of parents looking to keep their rugrats entertained for an hour or so. It’s also been a guaranteed “lose” for the aforementioned parents, who, more often than naught, have been sucked into theaters along with their offspring, and wind up suffering through another lousy “family-fun flick” — when all they were really hoping to do was drop the kids off at the theater so they could go grab a goddamned beer.

I myself have done the “parent” thing. I have sat through many an atrocious motion picture — both live-action and animated alike — that was aimed at my children, and which I had hoped would keep them occupied long enough so I could at least take a nap.

Sometimes the formula is successful: the kids enjoy themselves, the parents enjoy the fact that they can relax for a few minutes, and the whole world seems perfectly content. Other times, though, you wind up with a recipe for disaster. One such eye-twitching ball of horror that often comes back to haunt me every now and then is the 2001 film, Cats & Dogs. Sure, I may have taken temporary delight in the fact that my kids slightly enjoyed the film, but the movie itself was so irritating (even on a kiddie film level) that it seemed as if the whole world was coming to an end all around me.

To sum it up in a few words: Cats & Dogs is proof that there really is a Hell — and it’s called Hollywood.

The premise of talking animals in the movies never used to give me nightmares. That is, until the film industry began using CGI technology, wherein critters started sprouting opposable thumbs, moving their lips like humans (even developing lips where there had previously been none in some cases!), and — probably worst of all — expressing themselves via a variety of disturbingly unnatural facial expressions that were previously only fit for one’s most terrifying nightmares.

Honestly, it’s as if Satan was trying to subconsciously convert all of humanity — and created Cats & Dogs as the perfect method of doing so. He even conned an assortment of Hollywood pros such as Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, and Charleton Heston (amongst others) to take part in his recruitment film from Hell. The latter actors got off easy by just providing their voices, while the former two stars had to endure a lot more embarrassment all around.

Of course, most of those actors really hadn’t done anything good (or at least interesting) in a few years anyway — so they had it coming, I guess.

As you might have already guessed, the story of Cats & Dogs involves talking, articulating CGI critters — an entire planetful, in fact. Turns out, all of the cats and dogs of Earth are able to speak. Plan. And plot. And there’s an entire war brewing between these species, with the cats attempting to cause all humans to become allergic to dogs, and the dogs attempting to save the world from the pussies.

Whoa, whoa, wait…are you seriously trying to tell me that a fucking dog can outwit a cat?! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! The writers of Cats & Dogs (minions of Satan, as you may recall) obviously never owned a feline. Yes, I can completely fathom the concept of cats scheming to take over the whole world (they are cunning, you know), but I really can’t see a group of canines figuring out how to band together just to take turns pissing on the only fire hydrant in the neighborhood.

I also can’t see any reasonably sane person picking this one up on Blu-ray. Not just because it’s a bad film (whatever happened to critter-laden kiddie films like, say, The Secret Of Magic Island?), but because Warner Bros.’ A/V presentation for Cats & Dogs on Blu-ray is sub-par at best. The film is presented in a 1080p/VC-1 1.78:1 transfer, and boasts some relatively strong detail throughout — but the color scheme is even more cartoonish than the film deserves, with skintones leaning more towards the orange side, and an overly soft picture to boot.

Audio-wise, Cats & Dogs boasts a DTS-HD Master Audio lossless 5.1 track that seems to focus more on the front speakers than anything. On the plus side, though, it makes it easier to sleep through. The 25GB Blu-ray disc also contains DD 5.1 soundtracks in French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese — further exemplifying my theory that it’s the work of the Devil, and that its one and only goal is to turn people to the Dark Side. Several thousand subtitle options include English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH, Italian SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Hail Satan, yo.

On the bonus materials side of the Satanic spectrum, Cats & Dogs features the exact same shit that the old Standard DVD contained: an audio commentary with select cast and crew, several behind-the-scenes borefests (in SD), a sketch gallery, and a few storyboard comparisons. The only new item here plays at the beginning of the disc, and is a trailer for the new Cats & Dogs sequel (?), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore. Um, exactly why did producers feel the need to give such a forgettable film a follow-up? Oh, Hell if I know (ha, ha)!

Truth is, there really is no other explanation for Cats & Dogs being released to Blu-ray except to cash in on the upcoming theatrical sequel. Initial releases of this title even come with a free movie ticket for the unwanted theatrical continuation — in which case you will only concur with me that Hell is a place called Hollywood.

God help us all.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.
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