CATS & DOGS. 2001
Director: Lawrence Guterman

FLUKE. 1995
Director: Carlo Carlei

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Cats and Dogs It's hard to tell if this was meant to be a family film or only for kids. It's too complex for the little children, too stupidly uncool for maturing children, while adults would have to be awfully enamored of the idea of talking animals to care for it. And I must admit, the whole talking animals thingy does amuse me.

After the live-action/animation breakthroughs on the two films about the pig Babe, I really expected Babe's commercial success to induce a slug of talking animal films, since once the computer program was written for animating the lips, seems like that could've been recycled endlessly along an assembly line of similar pictures.

I expected to see remakes of The Jungle Book, Francis the Talking Mule, Mister Ed: The Movie, a live-action rather than cartoon version of The Wind in the Willows & Lady & the Tramp.

But apart from two so-so Dr. Doolittle films, Good Boy! (2003) about a talking dog from outer space learning to be properly subserviant to man like a proper dog, a dream-sequence in Snow Dogs (2002), & a shitload of talking animals on television commercials, the theaters weren't blitzed with this sort of thing.

And so far nothing apart from Babe (19j95) & Babe, Pig in the City (1998) has been particularly watchable, & certainly not half so good as the edgy science fiction comedy A Boy & His Dog (1975) made long before there was a computer program to make an intelligant mongrel's mouth move.

Cats and DogsAfter seeing Cats & Dogs (2001) one can see how it could become all very tiresome very fast & just a few films of this ilk is still too many.

Cats & Dogs is like a very funny seven-minute episode of the children's cartoon series Pinky & the Brain but stretched out to an intolerable feature length.

The persian cat who wants to take over the world is identical to the mouse The Brain, & his fawning low-IQ sidekick tabby is the same as Pinky. Except that the cartoon mice are more convincing.

According to this film all cats are evil, having always only pretended to like the humans they live among, while plotting our doom. Dogs however really are "man's best friend." They are all that stands between us & the cats' conquest of the earth.

Not only do cats & dogs talk to one another in English when humans aren't around to hear them, but they have an elaborate advanced spy technology which the cats use for evil, & the dogs use for good.

Clearly someone who attended a beginner screenwriting workshop doesn't like cats. In the morning paper there's a story about a pitbull that bit off the face of a four year old girl, but this movie posits all cats are either evil or stupid or both, & all dogs are clever & good.

The script is rarely convincing, & the head cat always talking like Doctor Evil while the dogs worry & fret about the safety of mankind mostly just seemed stupid. And I found myself liking the cats way better than the nambypamby dogs anyway, because the cats were funnier. The dogs were so dour, you'd think they just came home from seeing The Plague Dogs & were rethinking this whole man's best friend business.

For all its stupidity, it's nevertheless totally cutesy & diverting, & never sufficiently convincing that the children are at risk of hating cats afterward.

Fluke A sad-faced puppy is Fluke (1995). He was raised in an alley behind a Chinese restaurant, is finally captured with his mom & littermates & taken to the dog pound for further misery & likelihood of being put to sleep.

But he escapes from the pouind & sets out for adventure. I guess the rest of his family got gassed.

This puppy has confusing memories of his former life as a human being. He got reincarnated as a dog after a traffic accident. He hopes to find his way home to the wife & son of that former life. But in this life he's just a puppy without a lot of resources.

He lives for a while with a bag lady named Bella (). They create a good life in the streets together as entertaining beggars. She named him Fluke & made him a little sign with his name on it for his collar. Lucky she did, as that's the day she died.

FlukeHe next meets Rumbo (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) & learns rather late in the film how to do telepathic communication with other dogs.

Up until now Fluke was just a dog & there was a tepid adult interest to a regular pup's very real hardships.

For several scenes, though, after Mattheew Modine becomes the voice of Fluke, it becomes just a kiddy flick of talking animals, though it'll eventually get quite dark, too dark for the littler kiddies I should think.

In the meantime Fluke gets to be a junkyard dog with Rumbo. They have live-action cartoon adventures, which ends so startlingly badly for Rumbo that some kids might well be traumatize for a long time.

He finds his way "home" & is by now a large grown-up dog. He bonds with his son, becomes protective of his wife, but from their point of view he's just a dog. Fluke's widowed wife is dating Jeff (Eric Stoltz), whom Fluke hates, & thinks may have been responsible for his own death.

FlukeHere's where the story goes straight in the tank. Fluke our of jealousy & hate wants to murder Jeff & very nearly succeeds.

Only after inducing an accident that nearly kills them both does "the rest of the story" flood into Fluke's memory of his past life, when he was a complete asshole, Jeff a true friend, & he's been one serioiusly misbegotten doggy.

The script trumps up a heroic conclusion but fact is all evil was Fluke's doing & his character is irredeemable, though this is entirely the fault of hideously bad screenwriting.

In the badly done heroics, Fluke saves his human son from freezing to death, then limps off into the snowy night to let his wife & child build a new life with Jeff.

A bafflingly stupid story, I guess we're supposed to be happy this almost-killer of a dog ends up homeless for his bad deeds.

In the woods he meets a squirrel, who is the reincarnated Rumbo, a cartoon ending for the kiddies who by now are hiding under the bed & will never see the cutesie close. If you hate little kids, make 'em watch this.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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