Starring: James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Christina Applegate
Directed by: Brad Peyton (debut)
Written by: Ron J. Friedman (“Chicken Little”) and Steve Bencich (“Chicken Little”)
Aptly named “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” in reference to the character played by actress Honor Blackman in 1964’s “Goldfinger,” the new talking-animal sequel doesn’t have nearly enough bark or bite for anyone to take notice. Despite the number of James Bond references director Brad Payton and screenwriters Ron J. Friedman and Steve Bencich try to inject into it, the spoof is still as annoying, useless, and lightweight as the pet dander you’d find fused to a couch cushion.
In “Kitty Galore,” a sequel to the first film in 2001, Bette Midler lends her voice to the title character, a hairless, villainous feline who has come up with a dastardly plan to turn all the dogs of the world against his or her owners by broadcasting a high-pitched sound that will cause all canines to go insane.
Enter the team of secret cat and dog spies who put aside their differences and join forces to stop Kitty before she takes over the world. This includes Diggs (James Marsden), a former hot-shot police dog who is released from the force for his risky behavior; Butch (Nick Nolte), a snippy old hound who recruits him; and Catherine (Christina Applegate), a stealthy cat with ninja skills. Even a pigeon named Seamus (Katt Williams) joins up as a feathered informant who might be able to lead them to the bad kitty.
As far as talking-animal movies go, “Kitty Galore” could be worse. Remember the fluffy special agent gerbils in the terrible animated movie “G-Force” last year? At least “Kitty” is able to use a combination of real and CGI pets instead of relying completely on computers to create their heroes. Some of the dogs are huggable enough to capture a kindergartener’s attention, but without any real humor and charm coming from any of these fuzzy characters, it’s difficult to defend a movie that simply refuses to be even a bit original.
Instead, Peyton’s only concern is in how many 007 jokes and references he can squeeze into the short 75-minute runtime (even Roger Moore cheapens his link to Bond to be part of this). After those fail, Peyton goes for the obvious, witless gags: cat nip, dogs sniffing butts, fur balls. There’s even an uncreative parody of “Silence of the Lambs” that turns up for no real reason except to maybe jolt parents from dozing off by giving them something they’d recognize.
As easily forgettable as the original, “Kitty Galore” will trigger some reaction from the youngest moviegoers (probably in the form of “look at the doggy, mommy!”), but even a caboodle full of cute kittens isn’t reason enough to drag the entire family out for a weekend matinee.