By Steve Persall
Times Film Critic
The sole reason to buy tickets — 3-D or otherwise — to Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, which belongs in a pooper-scooper.
It's a preceding, too-short subject that almost makes the investment worthwhile, starring Looney Tunes legends Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote in richer colors and more eye-popping depth than ever. Coyote Falls needs only those cartoon icons, a bungee cord, a bridge and heavy traffic on a desert highway to muster more enjoyment than the main event never matches.
Coyote Falls seems like a trial run for a possible Looney Tunes revival, retrofitted for the 3-D generation. That makes more sense in theory and now execution than most childhood retreads do in any format. The late animation genius Chuck Jones would be proud.
Jones probably wouldn't stick around for The Revenge of Kitty Galore, a CGI sequel to Cats & Dogs we waited nine years to see, and could've waited much longer. The digital "peanut butter" making animals move their mouths to slumming celebrity voices is impressive, and the critters are well-trained in emotive head tilting. But for the love of Babe could we get more done with it?
The Revenge of Kitty Galore continues the parallel world conflict between cats and dogs, carried out by spy networks enabling 007-style puns that Austin Powers would reject. Kitty (shrill voice of Bette Midler) is a grotesquely hairless cat plotting to broadcast a global signal that will make dogs turn on their owners, ending their reign as man's best friend.
Keep that in mind because the movie doesn't. It is mentioned early and there's a countdown clock to Kitty's revenge (which doesn't tick fast enough), but I honestly forgot her scheme until Midler screeched it in my ears again near the finale. Director Brad Peyton is preoccupied with James Bond references — Roger Moore voicing a cat named Tad Lazenby (as in George Lazenby, who once played Bond) is the most clever — and frantic but flat action that defeats the purpose of 3-D.
The heroes are a disgraced police dog named Diggs (James Marsden) and the spy elder Butch (Nick Nolte) recruiting him for a secret agency. There's a Q-like gadget whiz (Joe Pantoliano), a wisecracking pigeon (Katt Williams) and a femme feline (Christina Applegate) for interspecies romance. Kitty has Mr. Tinkles (Sean Hayes) on her dark side.
The movie is geared to preschoolers, so only parents dragged with them may complain. There's only that Looney Tunes overture to savor before the Acme production begins.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at its new address: tampabay.com/blogs/movies.