Direct-to-DVD Too Good for Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite

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Cats Dogs 3 Paws Unite DVD

The CATS & DOGS franchise operates on the conceit that animals can all talk, and that cats and dogs work together to operate a high-tech MI-6 inspired operation to protect the world from other cats and dogs who have evil plans for the world. Using voice actors and CGI, it was an entertaining franchise for children to watch, and had enough of a plot to keep the adults awake.

With this third installment, PAWS UNITE, the notion of an engaging plot has been thrown out with the kitty litter.

The cat and dog agents this go-round are voiced by Melissa Rauch and Max Greenfield. The problem at hand is that cats and dogs around the world are fighting like... well, like cats and dogs. It's an escalation noticable enough to make the human news, and the only reason the animal agency -- Furry Animal's Rivaly Termination (yes, that's F.A.R.T. so now you have an idea of some of the higher humor in this flick) -- knows that the fighting is influenced by an outside force is because the bad guy... er... animal... has announced his intentions, but not who he is. The natural assumption is that it's another cat, like Mister Tinkles from the first film.

Instead, the entire plot is hatched by a cockatoo named Pablo (George Lopez), who has organized all the other "Other Pets" of a local pet store to use wifi and cell phones to transmit a signal that agitates cats and dogs to fight with each other. The signals can also be used on other animals and, yes, on people as well. Pablo's gripe is that he's tired of being kept in the back of the pet store while cats and dogs get the preferential treatment for pet selection. If cats and dogs make themselves unwanted by people, then the iguanas, tarantulas, and other creatures might have a better shot at being selected. It's a leveling of the playing field, an animal-driven blow for social justice among potential pets.

There are a few humans involved, notably the two teenaged pet owners (played by Callum Seagram Airlie and Sarah Giles), who get brought together as friends by their pets by way of getting their smart phones hidden (yes, the film's message of "unplug and reconnect" gets driven home in more than one unsubtle way). But their stories are lower than subplots, and the viewer simply doesn't connect with any of their problems because they already know the animals will solve everything in the end, all without revealing that they can speak.

Stale animal humor and the lack of an engaging story makes CATS & DOGS 3: PAWS UNITE nothing more than a trained animal show. We'd recommend going back to the first flick -- or even HOMEWARD BOUND -- if the talking-animal genre is your kind of thing.

2.5 / 5.0