We can't get a James Bond movie, thanks to MGM's financial troubles. But don't worry — we can get Cats And Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore, which is the worst James Bond spoof of all time. Featuring Roger Moore!
Do I really need to have a spoiler warning for this review? Is anybody hoping to see this movie unspoiled, so all the clever plot twists can surprise and delight you? Fine then. Spoilers ahead!
So here's the bottom line, because if you're even considering seeing this movie, you probably have ADHD. There are at least two good kids' movies in theaters right now: Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me. And there are a few other great options for keeping your kid distracted for a few hours — honestly, it's better to watch one of those other movies for the third or fourth time than to see this one.
At its core, Cats And Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore is like one of those Scary Movie/Superhero Movie/Epic Movie/Meet The Spartans type spoofs — except with talking animals, whose lips move. Various spy/cop movies are lampooned in a half-hearted fashion, but it's vaguely cute because there are cats and dogs in the mix. This is bad in and of itself, because everything is a pastiche of a pastiche of a pastiche, thus teaching children that genre is stupid. But we'll get to that in a second.
First — because I'm still assuming you have ADHD — I'm going to tell you the reason you MUST NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. One of the funny talking animals is a pigeon. And the big joke about this pigeon is that he's really dumb, because his brain is the size of a grape. So he forgets what he's talking about in mid sentence, he's incapable of understanding really basic stuff, he's kind of idiotic, etc. This, in itself, is not a bad comedic conceit. Except that the dumb pigeon, Seamus, is voiced by African American comedian Katt Williams, whose voice comes out sounding a bit like Skids and Mudflap in Transformers 2. Imagine "The Twins" if the joke was that they were too stupid to move. Almost all of the other voices in the movie are done by white actors, and they're of at least normal intelligence. (Update: Apparently I missed that Michael Clarke Duncan does one of the other animal voices.) Seriously. You cannot take your kids to see this movie.
Honestly, if it hadn't been for the pigeon thing, I would have given the movie a C-minus and washed my hands of it. But this is really not okay.
Okay then. So the good news is, Cats And Dogs II is very science fictional. Both in the sense of wacky spy gadgets and a super-futuristic Men In Black-style "lair" for the animals, and in the sense that the plot is pure ridiculous scifi. There's a satellite, and a secret formula, and if you launch the code at the right time, it'll play a sound that only dogs can hear, which make all dogs in the world go mad. The mastermind behind all of this is Kitty Galore, a cat who fell into a vat of chemicals that made her lose her fur, thus making her insufficiently cute. (Side note: As someone who loves sphinx cats, I found this slur against hairless cats to be deeply unwarranted.) The threat is so dire, it forces the warring forces of cats and dogs to put aside their differences and work together.
Here's the scene where we visit the headquarters of the dog secret agents for the first time:
Besides the cat villain being named Kitty Galore, there are tons of other James Bond in-jokes. As I mentioned, Roger Moore does the voice of the leader of the cat spies, who's named Tab Lazenby ("George Lazenby" being the name of Roger Moore's predecessor in the role of James Bond.) The opening credits are genuinely awesome — a bunch of dancing silhouettes of cats and dogs, over a truly rocking Shirley Bassey cover version of Pink's "Get This Party Started," in the style of her Goldfinger theme song. Kitty Galore's evil plan is vaguely reminiscent of Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker (the film versions), and so on. There are also some spoofs of Mission Impossible, The Silence Of The Lambs, and assorted other movies/TV shows that parents will recognize.
Here's the Silence Of The Lambs spoof:
So to some extent, spoofs like this have always been the way that kids learn about pop culture's major touchstones. Many of us grew up reading Mad Magazine and watching cartoons that lampooned famous movies. I read the Mad Magazine parodies of a shockingly high number of movies before I ever saw the original films. But do spoofs aimed at kids have to be as brain-dead as they are in Cats And Dogs 2? After watching this film, you're left with the feeling that the film-makers have never even seen the things they're spoofing, they've only ever seen other spoofs, which they're re-spoofing. Everything is so far removed from whatever made it awesome originally that it's like a bad copy of a copy. This is not how our children should be introduced to their pop-cultural heritage!
After a while of watching this stuff, especially during the stretches where there are no humans in the movie, you begin to suspect you are watching a relic from a post-human civilization in which uplifted animals replay stories from the former human culture for their amusement, and part of the "joke" is that the humans are all dead and our vaunted civilization has degraded in the minds of our posthuman replacements into a series of fire hydrant and kitty litter jokes — the real joke is on humans, who thought they had a culture that would endure, who thought that their memes and jokes would stay meaningful beyond our individual lifetimes. This is the true "revenge" of the film's title, the animals with their grotesque talking lips, reveling in the irrelevance of the ruins of the former human media empire.