Cats & Dogs (2001)
Review by Cosette

Directed by Lawrence Guterman
Written by Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Starring Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Sean Hayes, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum


Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Rent It.

Everyone knows that cats and dogs aren’t particularly fond of one another, but what we didn’t know is that they are actually operating a full-scale war under our very noses with secret agents, hi-tech devices, and exploding pet treats, among other things. Lou (voiced by McGuire) is a puppy longing for adventure who accidentally gets mixed up in the crusade. Trying to follow the advice of his supervisor, Butch (voiced by Baldwin) and intrigued by a mysterious dog named Iris (voiced by Sarandon), Lou finds himself torn between his duty for his species and his love for his human friend, Scott (Alexander Pollock). Meanwhile...the evil cat Mr. Tinkles (voiced by Hayes) is plotting something big and nasty, and it’s up to Lou and his compatriots to protect dogs and humans alike. This is a very neat movie just because of the effects, but the story and the whole concept makes it a great kids’ movie that adults will enjoy as well.

This DVD is set up rather creatively. The initial menu makes you choose between either going to a cat or dog menu, which is fun to begin with--although it gets old when you've already been through the menus and just want to watch the thing. Regardless of the two menus, some of the features on each side were unique while others were repeated, so I basically had to wade through them all to see if I had missed anything. Be warned: the concept sketches and “screen tests” were a bit hidden in the icons of the design. It would have been nice if some of the features had been more clearly labeled. Cute icons and searching for features only goes so far sometimes, you know? Also, some of the features (such as an alternate ending) are only available on a CD-DVD ROM drive, and then only on a PC, so if you have a Mac, sorry.

I always wish that the behind-the-scenes stuff covered more than they do, but the two documentaries were really quite informative, especially about the process of melding live action with real animals, puppet animals, and CGI effects. It’s really amazing what the creative teams on this film have done, and it’s hard to tell sometimes which effect is being used, so the documentaries were very helpful in explaining what was what.

The commentary track focused on the effects a lot as well-—some times they would discuss the transitions between effects while a scene played out, and it made me realize even more how flawlessly some of the scenes had been put together. The commentary on the whole was okay—-I enjoyed the technical information the most, but it was often confusing to tell who was speaking. I would have appreciated at times for the participants to identify themselves. It also would have been nice to have at least one scene or two with a commentary from the characters, since the movie focuses so much on the rivalry between the animals. A track with Mr. Tinkles (especially considering that Sean Hayes was on the actual commentary track) and Lou or Butch duking it out would have been great, but ah well.

For the most part, this was a good DVD, but unless your kids want to watch it every day, or if you are a die-hard cat or dog fan, this one is a rental.

Buy the DVD from Amazon!
Buy the soundtrack from Amazon!

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