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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 93 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Janeane Garofalo has kind of been dealt the short end of the stick in many of her filmic roles, usually portraying rather blunt, acerbic and generally frumpy characters. One of the many delightful surprises in store within The Truth About Cats & Dogs is that we're allowed an opportunity to see a whole new side to her - a certain sweetness, humanity and intelligence not usually given a chance to shine.

She portrays Dr. Abby Barnes, a vet who hosts a Californian radio talk back show. People call up with the usual little problems - overly affectionate felines, depressed fish and huge dogs on roller skates - and after helping the latter caller, Brian (Ben Chaplin), Abby finds herself asked on a date by the very grateful, and certainly charming, Brit. A Pandora's box of insecurities is unleashed from within her, and her lack of self-esteem causes her to give rather a different description of herself when asked by Brian who he should look out for. Needless to say they don’t meet quite yet.

However, Brian isn’t one to give up so easily, and calls once more in search of a rendezvous. As luck would have it Abby has a neighbour, Noelle (Uma Thurman) who fits the description of being 5'10" and blonde she gave her would-be suitor, and she eventually manages to convince her to meet the guy, posing as her. Noelle isn’t exactly the sharpest pin in the sewing kit, and it isn’t until after this rather awkward meeting, and a quick seven-hour or so extremely intimate phone call to the real Abby, that the sparks really begin to fly. The only problem is that Brian thinks Noelle is Abby, and that Abby is a cheese maker friend of hers named Donna. Naturally the situation requires a bit of sorting out, and Noelle's intention is to accomplish just that, until she too finds herself attracted to this man who sees more in her than just a pretty face and legs a mile long. The decision is made - the only way Abby and Noelle can get this sorted once and for all is for them both to drop by Brian's, get shit-faced and see what happens. So what will conquer all - the beauty or the brains?

"You've got to have a boyfriend, don't you? Otherwise it's just you, a cat, and 40 candles on your birthday cake..."

If you haven’t sniffed it already, The Truth About Cats & Dogs grabs the classic Cyrano de Bergerac tale firmly by the schnozz and gives it a few mighty tweaks and twists. What results is an extremely enchanting tale with a genuinely charming wit to it, as well as a palpable realism to an extent - even in the most contrived of situations that it throws up at times. The three main cast members deserve so much credit for making this movie the sheer pleasure it is. Janeane's Abby possesses an endearing humanity in her self doubting cloud with which any girl from mouse to man eater can surely identify, and although on the surface Noelle may appear to have it all simply with her beauty, Uma gives her a certain likeability in the way she portrays her as more than just a 2D blonde bimbo. Ben Chaplin is utterly gorgeous as Brian, and it's easy to believe that Abby and Noelle could fall for him so easily. Best of all he's definitely got a lot more going for him than simply a snappy British accent.

As is the way with films of this nature, there's no great prize on offer for guessing how things will turn out in the end, however it's how we get taken there that really matters, and in this case Audrey Wells' debut script delivers in all the right places.

  Video
Contract

When older films such as this - okay, it's from 1996, but that's kind of old when it comes to DVD - arrive for review there is often a tendency to expect the worst. Generally though, The Truth About Cats & Dogs displays a surprisingly good anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 picture throughout. Grain is not really an issue, however there is a certain lack of depth to the contrast overall that leaves us with rather dodgy shadow detail at some points of the film, and small flecks and specks do appear from time to time. Otherwise, things are generally pleasingly sharp without ever being TOO sharp, colour sits just the right side of being a little dull and although a couple of scenes display a modicum of edge enhancement, it isn’t particularly intrusive. The layer change is placed in the midst of a fairly rapid fade to black, and is only mildly annoying.

  Audio
Contract

While the 5.1 soundtrack is hardly a stretch for any system, with the rears remaining virtually dormant throughout, there is at least some fabulous directional work going on up front at times. For a film named after both its relatives and generally acknowledged nemeses, the subwoofwoof is remarkably quiet - so incredibly so in fact that it may as well have been drugged into a very deep slumber. With no spectacular aural pyrotechnics to clutter the works, the dialogue is given much space to come through cleanly and clearly, never fighting with the regular arrivals of songs and score.

As for the latter, it's provided by Hollywood soundtrack veteran Howard Shore, and does tend to hang around the noodle jazz end of the spectrum with alarming regularity - which of course is fine if you're into that kind of stuff. The pop song quota is filled by what was obviously deemed suitably 'adult' fare, with the many inclusions bringing us everybody from Sting to Ben Folds Five, via the likes of Suzanne Vega, Jill Sobule, Al Green, Cowboy Junkies and even ex-The Jam man Paul Weller.

  Extras
Contract

Well, we can be thankful the film's so charming, as there's nothing much else to sweeten things up around here. The static menu is at least accompanied by some of the noodle jazz from the soundtrack, and there is a theatrical trailer. It's presented in full frame, features standard Dolby Digital Stereo sound, runs for 2:29 and is fairly average looking, although it does at least convey what the film is all about quite well.

  Overall  
Contract

If your most important requisite for a DVD purchase is a pile of extras then this isn’t for you, but as far as romantic comedies go, The Truth About Cats & Dogs easily rates in the upper echelon, in fact on the Meg Ryan scale™ that ranges from mawkish to moribund it definitely scores a hearty 'just right'. As alluded to earlier, the situation may tend towards being a tad far-fetched at times, however things are held together superbly by an injection of genuinely witty humour, and more importantly an incredibly realistic portrayal of the countless insecurities so many of us face when falling in love. This last point, of course, is a delightfully pleasant and most welcome change.


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      And I quote...
    "As far as romantic comedies go, The Truth About Cats & Dogs easily rates in the upper echelon..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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