Friday, November 30, 2018

Cats and Dogs (1983)

Larcenous Latin lover Tony Roma has come under the radar of a prominent senator, and top police officer Alan Parker is assigned to retrieve him into custody. Things are complicated however when Roma escapes and witnesses a gangland killing, and Parker has to not only find the man again, but also keep him safe from mafia assassins...

I daresay the biggest problem Bud Spence vehicle Cats and Dogs faces is that it's a little overstuffed. The crux of Cats and Dogs is a Midnight Run style cop and crook on the run through midwestern America from bigger crooks, but it takes almost halfway through the film for this to start. It does feel like we genuinely get to know these two characters and what kind of relationship they have, well as what they both get up to in their spare time. Them being a bit fleshed out is appreciated and it doesn't feel too much like padding, but I still wish the whole on-the-run section started earlier.

Alan Parker is a good lead to follow, and the addition of his family adds some extra   depth/dimension to his character (plus it's a nice change of pace seeing a gruff cop who's not estranged from his family). Not only is he a determined cop, but also one juggling work and home life, trying to keep his true career a secret. Tony Roma on the other hand is pretty annoying. More sleazy than charming due to the performance and direction, I have severe doubts as to how he can induce immediate onset hornyness with only a glance, even in decidedly unsexy situations, like lying infirm in a hospital bed after a stomach pumping, or being discovered hiding in the back of a family's panel wagon.

The humour is hit or miss. Some lines or situations are quite funny, but more than a few failed to elicit much of a response from me, and the occasional joke feels a bit mean-spirited and out-of-place in this otherwise lighthearted affair.

The action is ok. There are only a couple of big fight scenes, namely the climax. It's a little too foggy to make out much of anything at first, but this is soon alleviated a bit and we see some great punches courtesy of Bud. There are a few car chases in Cats and Dogs too. The first isn't filmed that great, mainly due to the lethargic pacing and multitude of moments shot in ultra close up, but the following ones are much better handled. There are quite a few impressive stunts on display, particularly one involving a motorcycle, that must've had  Tomas Milian (or his stuntman if that wasn't him...Yeah, this is an Italian flick from the 80s, so it probably was him) having nightmares about his crotch. [Less impressive is a big continuity error when Tony flees the mafia killing. It's nighttime, but once he's run out of the building, all ready for the film's first big car chase, it's suddenly broad daylight.]

Bud Spencer is great, showing that he can certainly carry a movie on his own. Also, his fashion sense is spot on! The man can rock a suit and vest like it's an upmarket accessory. Tomas Milian meanwhile fares less well. To me he comes across as anti-charismatic. It's not that I don't like the guy. I do! Just not in this movie. Ignoring the obnoxious fake Italian accent his dub-actor brings, he comes across/off more like an unappealing little weasel rather than a handsome smooth operator. When in better hands, Milian can be quite dashing and charismatic, so maybe it was intentional to have him be like this? Terence Hill really would've been a good fit for the role, and I kinda wish he'd been here, but I am glad he's not if only to see Bud out on his own for a change.

The rest of the acting is pretty uniformly terrible, and that goes for both the original performers, and the dub actors too. The Italian actors perform strange gesticulations and have either blank or overexpressive faces, while the English ones have no sense of timing with their line readings. The dub synchronisation is really bad! The onscreen actors will either barely move their lips while the voice over yammers on, or the two will just be so mismatched that you shake your head.

The music is the saving grace for Cats and Dogs. From the greatly enjoyavle theme song, to the rescorings, and leitmotifs, the score is a real marvel, and makes the film stand out a lot more than it otherwise would have.

For all its musical positives, and its leading man's performance, Cats and Dogs is one of Bud Spencer's weaker pictures, but it's got enough to recommend a watch if 80s style music really appeals to you...

corner, cute face, just before, 24:27,  :25 tie, maybe flower car, flipped car?

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