A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while the pet antics make this movie seem like a great preteen pick, Abby plays a liberated woman who discusses sexual matters frankly. Her telephone relationship with Brian culminates in a prolonged bathtub phone-sex scene.
What's the story?
THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS kicks off when radio talk show host Abby (Janeane Garofalo), a vet who answers questions about pets, takes a call from dog owner Brian (Ben Chaplin) and falls for him over the phone. Brian is equally intrigued. Self-conscious Abby lies about what she looks like, describing her super-model of a neighbor, Noelle (Uma Thurman), instead of herself. When Ben and Abby decide to meet, Abby gets Noelle to stand in for her. Brian's a little confused, since the woman he meets doesn't seem to have the same personality as the one on the phone; things get even more complicated when Noelle finds herself attracted to Brian, too.
Is it any good?
From the outset, this whimsical comedy isn't entirely plausible. Although Jeanine Garofalo is a short brunette, she's a lot cuter than the movie would have you believe. And while Uma Thurman is tall and beautiful, why does that mean she can't read Sartre without a dictionary? On top of which, Brian the Brit seems like a pretty sharp customer, so how is it that he can't recognize Abby's voice outside of the radio station?
Despite these flaws in logic, Cats and Dogs is funny and intelligent in ways that many romantic comedies aren't these days. After all, Abby's witty cynicism isn't entirely misguided. Beautiful women do generally get more attention than the average veterinarian. Two scenes make this point hilariously clear, one involving a bicycle and the other a bee. And the plot contrivance that requires that Noel take on Abby's professional duties produces some pretty funny results. Not to be missed is the scene in which she has to encourage a wheezy turtle to emerge from its shell. For a mature audience, however, this is a movie that's perfectly cast and nicely executed. Most everyone will cheer at the inevitable happy ending.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: April 15, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: April 15, 2002
- Cast: Ben Chaplin, Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman
- Director: Michael Lehmann
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: a sex-related scene and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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