Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 30, 2020)
Back in 2001, Cats & Dogs turned into a moderate box office hit. With $93 million US and $200 million total, it didn’t dazzle – that total made it 24th in the States that year – but with a $60 million budget, it clearly turned a profit, and given its obvious appeal to family audiences, a sequel seemed guaranteed.
While a second film did emerge, it took a surprisingly long nine years to arrive. Perhaps due to the length of this wait, 2010’s Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore failed to replicate its predecessor’s success.
With an $85 million budget, Galore brought in only $43 million US and $112 million total, a low enough total to ensure it’d lose money. This meant the studio didn’t pursue another film in the series for a decade – and even then went straight to video for 2020’s Cats & Dogs: Paws Unite.
In the first film, we learned that canines and felines long fought a high-tech war unobserved by humans. This time, though, the two sides need to stage a truce and join forces against a common enemy.
Once an agent for the MEOWS group, Kitty Galore (voiced by Bette Midler) goes rogue and decides to shoot for world domination. This means that her canine enemies and former feline friends need to find a way to stop her for the good of both sides.
Though I thought the original Cats & Dogs boasted lots of potential for entertainment, it failed to become more than an erratic adventure. Galore offers such a close replica of that experience that I feel tempted to just cut and paste my comments from the earlier review.
On the positive side, Galore boasts a fine cast. In addition to Midler, we find Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate, James Marsden, Jack McBrayer, Wallace Shawn, and a slew of others.
A highlight of the prior film, Sean Hayes reprises his role as Mr. Tinkles. Heck, we even get Roger Moore, a nice nod since Galore offers such an obvious nod to the universe of James Bond.
In addition, Galore manages the occasional moment of giddy mirth. The film throws an awful lot at the screen, and every once in a while, a gag hits the mark.
Unfortunately, the wheat to chaff ratio seems poor, as a lot more of the jokes fall flat than connect. Galore mixes cheap bits meant for kids with slapstick and it fails to work any of this in a clever manner.
The plot seems like a mess, so it does the film no favors either. Essentially the story acts as little more than a framework to support the gags and action, so Galore bops from one barely connected sequence to another and never comes together to create a logical narrative.
I do enjoy the sight of so many cute critters, but the movie mars them as well due to spotty effects. Galore brings its characters to life via a mix of real animals, CG and puppets, and the three techniques don’t mesh.
Of course, even the actual animals require the assistance of visual effects to allow them to move their mouths to speak, but Galore goes farther than that with a few entirely CG characters – like Kitty herself. Whenever we see these, they take us out of the movie because they never look especially realistic.
The puppets work even weaker. Mr. Tinkles comes across worst – because he gets the most screen time – and others create distractions as well.
Somehow Warner spent $85 million on Galore, but with its cheap effects and generally iffy production values, I don’t know where that money went. A forgettable sequel to a mediocre movie, this winds up as a spotty piece of family fare.