A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action-comedy sequel includes a good bit of goofy cat-and-dog humor and physical comedy that's OK for elementary schoolers but may not be age-appropriate for preschoolers. Overall, most of the jokes and sight gags are rather tame, although there are quite a few product placements, some use of language like "butt" and "stupid," and a long pet prison sequence that features a cat that sounds and acts like Hannibal Lecter. Of course, most children won't understand the reference, but Mr. Tinkles is still one creepy cat. Note: Since 3-D technology intensifies scenes, it's possible that young kids unfamiliar with the format may be jumpy during the action sequences.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this not-exactly-long-awaited sequel to 2001's Cats & Dogs, the nefarious cat Kitty Galore (voiced by Bette Midler) masterminds a plan to make the entire canine population of the world go mad so that she and her feline followers can enslave humans. It's an ambitious scheme, especially since an elite, top-secret organization of dogs, DOGS -- led by distinguished beagle Lou (Neil Patrick Harris) -- is out to stop her. Australian Shepherd Butch (Nick Nolte), a veteran investigator, is tapped to break in rookie partner Diggs (James Marsden), who's recruited after being let go from the San Francisco Police Department's K-9 unit. When the DOGS agents realize that catching Kitty requires some insider knowledge, they team up with their mortal enemies -- Catherine (Christina Applegate) and other agents in the MEOWS squad -- to bring down the crazy cat.
Is it any good?
In this day of ubiquitous, unnecessary 3-D films, this is yet another example of why there's no need to make every kid-marketed film come with a $4 surcharge and oversized glasses. Although there are a few laughs in the movie, there's also a whole lot of eye-rolling for parents. What works best in the plot is the buddy-cop angle with Nolte and Marsden's canines. There's an obvious 48 Hours/Lethal Weapon vibe between the two dogs -- one is a wise veteran and the other an immature hotheaded newbie -- and the rapport feels genuine (albeit ridiculously familiar). And the dog and cat agent headquarters are amusing, but the overlong gags about a cat lady's brood that's "high" on catnip and the Hannibal Lecter-esque Mr. Tinkles get old alarmingly fast.
Midler is evilly delicious as the megalomaniacal Kitty Galore, although it's a bit disappointing that she didn't contribute anything to the soundtrack, which does feature a fantastically campy rendition of "Get the Party Started" by Shirley Bassey. Kids who have yet to outgrow the allure of every single talking-animal comedy will enjoy the silly jokes, but grown-ups may find the CGI and the animal lip movements a tad off-putting after a while -- not to mention the stale one-liners.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's important that the cats and dogs get over their differences to work together. Can you think of a similar real-life situation? Is it dangerous to make assumptions about people?
Who do the movie's jokes appeal to most? Do you think kids get all the pop culture references? Are they funny for adults?
Some people love talking-animal movies, and other people hate them. What do you think?