Saturday 29 April 2023

Movie Review: The Truth About Cats And Dogs (1996)

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Michael Lehmann
Starring: Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman, Ben Chaplin, Jamie Foxx
Running Time: 97 minutes

Synopsis: Los Angeles veterinarian and radio show host Abby Barnes (Janeane Garofalo) is a short brunette and perceives herself as unattractive. She senses a connection with caller Brian (Ben Chaplin), but a misunderstanding results in Abby's tall blonde neighbour Noelle (Uma Thurman) representing herself as Abby. Brian starts seeing both Noelle (believing her to be Abby) and Abby (pretending to be Noelle's friend Donna), and the resultant complicated romantic triangle will be tough to untangle.

What Works Well: With director Michael Lehmann maintaining brisk pacing and wrapping up in under 100 minutes, this variation on Cyrano de Bergerac benefits from two appealing lead performances. Janeane Garofalo convinces as a competent woman trapped in a societally-induced negative self image trap, while Uma Thurman finds funny notes as the goofy model who never has to worry about attracting men. An intimate all-night phone date between Brian and the real Abby achieves a romantic highlight, while the pets add a lovable factor. 

What Does Not Work As Well: Sustaining an entire romantic comedy on a single case of muddled identity requires plenty of cinematically dim, far-fetched, and quite laborious behaviour by otherwise smart people. Within the sparse two-legged supporting cast, Jamie Foxx is wasted.

Conclusion: The cats and dogs are willing, but get limited toys to play with.

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