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HuffPost Review: Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

07/30/2010 10:30 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I laughed enough at Cats and Dogs, the 2001 live-action comedy about the secret war between canines and felines for world domination, which goes on unseen by the oblivious humans who don't notice them talking or acting like secret agents. Enough, at least, to remember it fondly.

I barely laughed at all at Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the witless and obvious (and, unnecessarily, 3D) new sequel with few if any of the same voice actors and none of the same humans.

Certainly the technology has improved, so the blend of live action, puppets and computer-animated effects is more seamless -- though detectable to anyone who's paying attention. That would be the adults in the audience, who otherwise will be rolling their eyes at how lame both the verbal and physical humor is. Eight-year-olds will guffaw at jokes about dogs sniffing each other's butts but not the guardians who are forced to endure this film with them.

The plot deals with a German shepherd named Diggs (voiced by James Marsden), whose overexuberance costs him his job on the San Francisco police force. But he's snapped up by the doggy secret-agent agency, DOG, to stop a cat plot to... well, does it really matter?

The point is that hardly any of the talking animals actually have anything funny to say after the first five minutes or so. There's a lot of voice talent at work here, though few of the voices from the original (Tobey Maguire has been replaced by Neil Patrick Harris, Alec Baldwin by Nick Nolte -- does it matter?). Bette Midler -- when was the last time the Divine Miss M had a comedy role worthy of her talents? -- is the voice of Kitty Galore, a hairless cat who wants to achieve world dominance, a concept that, again, only eight year olds could invest in.

Put it this way: Midler, Sean Hayes, comedian Katt Williams and several other cast members could ad lib funnier material in their sleep than the drivel they're given here. So, for that matter, could you. Take your kids to see Toy Story 3 again, and skip this inconsequential piece of offal.