THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS & DOGS is a light hearted and delightful
retelling of the CYRANO DE BERGERAC story. It is a fun movie with not
a lot of substance, but with plenty of style and wit. Although not
quite as good Steve Martin's version called ROXANNE, it nevertheless
has a script by Audrey Wells that is superb - full of intelligent
humor. Although it is certainly no laugh riot, there are many jokes,
small and large, to keep your attention and fix a smile on your face.
Not only does the script possess creative humor, it fashions compelling
characters for whom the audience really cares. A lightweight show
certainly, but a sweet one.
Dr. Abby Barnes (Janeane Garofolo) is a radio talk show
veterinarian whose show is called "The Truth About Cats and Dogs." One
day a photographer called Brian (Ben Chaplin) calls in with a problem
he is having with a wonderful big dog named Hank (Hank the Dog). Hank
is upset because he has to be on roller skates for the picture. Brian
falls for Abby's voice, but Abby lacks self-confidence with her looks
so she lies about whom she is. Actually she is a short but a little
chunky brunette with a lovely and attractive smile. Nevertheless, she
tells Brain that she is her tall, thin, blonde, and gorgeous neighbor
Noelle Slusarsky (Uma Thurman).
The next day on the phone, Abby asks Brian, "How'd it go?" with
Hank. He says, "he snored, but we stood it." She inquires, "How'd you
do it?", and he explains, "He slept on my face so I couldn't hear him."
Noelle doesn't understand Abby's lack of sexual activity, asking,
"You gotta have a boyfriend, don't you? Otherwise it's just you, a
cat, and 40 candles on your birthday cake." Abby envies Noelle's
beauty, telling her, "You burp and guys think its adorable. You puke
and they line up to hold your hair back." Noelle on the other hand,
does not like her life as a model, explaining, "I don't eat anything so
I can look good on the outside, but on the inside, there's nothing."
During most of the movie we have almost five foot Abby hanging out
with almost six foot Noelle and creating some hilarious visuals. The
only major dirty word in the show is a single use of the F-word by
Noelle in a great line that almost had me double over in laughter.
Both of the actresses are good, but this is Garofolo's show. She is
terrific - strong, witty, vulnerable, and extremely humorous. Her
funny line at the end of the movie is the best part of the show.
Thurman does a good job of making Noelle into an airhead without
resorting to caricature. After Brian gives her a book, Noelle is
shocked saying, "nobody has ever given me a book before that doesn't
have pictures in it."
Chaplin has a limited role as the sweet and boyishly handsome
boyfriend. He does this well, but the stars are the two female leads,
and he is there strictly to complement them. Once Abby puts him to the
test by wanting to know, "If you are trapped in Biosphere 3, whom would
you want to bring: Time's Woman of the Year or Playboy's Bunny of the
Year?" Okay guys, what would you have answered?
I do not know exactly what constitutes a "chick flick," but the
large audience on opening night was over three quarters women with more
all female couples than mixed sex couples so perhaps this is a chick
flick. As a male however, I was just as impressed by the show as was
I like the way, the art of long and intelligent telephone
conversation is a central part of the film. The film really teaches
you that beauty is more than skin deep. Actually, I thought there
should have been more of a contrast between Abby's looks and Noelle's.
Abby's clothes are suitably clunky, but Noelle's frocks are too plain
and her make-up too washed out. In contrast, Abby had great make-up.
I would pick Abby every time as would I suspect will most intelligent
men watching the show.
THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS & DOGS runs a fast 1:37 thanks to good
editing and pacing by editor Stephen Semel and director Michael
Lehmann. It is correctly rated PG-13. There are only a few bad words,
no violence, no nudity, and the sex is limited to the telephone. I
suspect the film would be fine for most kids over 10. I recommend the
show to you and give it ***.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes