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Cats & Dogs
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, and Co-Produced by:
John Debney

Co-Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Pete Anthony

Co-Orchestrated by:
Jon Kull
Louis Febre
Ira Hearshen
Chris Klatman
Jeff Atmajian
Frank Bennett
Don Nemitz

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

Co-Produced by:
Michael Mason

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
August 21st, 2001

Also See:
My Favorite Martian
Inspector Gadget

Audio Clips:
1. Main Titles (0:31):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

8. Team Theme/Montage (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

10. Blasting to Headquarters (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

12. Lou's Alive! (0:26):
WMA (172K)  MP3 (210K)
Real Audio (131K)

Regular U.S. release.


Cats & Dogs

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Sales Rank: 213763

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Buy it... if you are among those who balked at spending the money on the rare albums for John Debney's My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget, for Cats & Dogs is a very similar alternative.

Avoid it... if you rank predictable parody scores by the number of creative instrumental opportunities missed in their contents.

Cats & Dogs: (John Debney) Attempting to cater to the suburban world's population of 8-year-olds, the directorial debut of Lawrence Guterman is a comedy techno thriller about the highly sophisticated worldwide battle that exists between cats and dogs (without the knowledge of those pesky humans, of course). When a human invents a cure for his species allergies to dog dander, the secret agents of cat society swing into action to stop an event that could switch the balance of power in the pet world over to dogs. The mutts have their own agents however, and accompanying the remarkably stupid original script for the film is an utterly predictable score by children's genre veteran John Debney. Whether or not by his own choice, Debney was entrenching himself into the typecast of a composer whose expertise suited him best for the action/comedy genre, and especially wacky and dumb children's films. His career had been defined by these projects since the mid-1990's, and yet most of the attention brought to Debney by mainstream score fans was caused by such uncharacteristic projects as Cutthroat Island and End of Days. Since 1999, Debney had been experimenting in a variety of genres, including the electronically dense and marginally enjoyable scores for Michael Jordan to the Max (an IMAX picture in which Debney's score is upstaged by the insertion of Hans Zimmer's Crimson Tide into certain key sequences) and the football comedy The Replacements, which was best forgotten on both screen and album. For Cats & Dogs, Debney was presented with the paycheck-collecting opportunity to record with a large Los Angeles orchestra and flex his muscle in slapstick comedy scoring once again. His work for My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget never made it onto commercial albums, though their promotional releases remained popular finds in the collector's markets at the time of this 2001 entry in the genre. For the composer, Cats & Dogs is a sister score to My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget rather than to Paulie, the misadventure with a talking bird that was released by Varèse Sarabande to grumbling fans three years prior. Casual collectors of Debney's works will notice very little difference between Cats & Dogs and those prior, highly functional parody scores.

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As usual, Debney's talent for interpreting pop culture themes into his orchestral works is placed at the forefront. The Lalo Schifrin theme for the Mission: Impossible television series is a pronounced influence in two of the early cues, establishing without a doubt the technological mastery of these cats and dogs in their epic battle. Interestingly, beyond these stylish performances, the score has surprisingly few purely slapstick comedy moments. Both My Favorite Martian and Inspector Gadget were difficult to appreciate at certain points because they were so frantic in their bouncy enthusiasm for their genre. Cats & Dogs, while still maintaining the charisma of the storyline, is a smoother and more consistent listening experience. The full orchestra, which performs well but is mixed rather flatly, kicks with ferocious force during some cues, but never in too silly of a context. Debney introduces a tender primary theme for the heroic lead puppy, Lou, that flourishes at the conclusion of "Lou's Alive!" The harmonica-produced simplicity of the theme is corny to an extent, but a film involving cute, talking canines and felines is well served by this tone. On album, it becomes easier to notice two notable traits to the score. First, Debney only scratches the surface of the unique forms of orchestration he could have employed for the animals themselves. For the cats, he employs a scratchy violin cascade in short bursts (nothing to the extent of Danny Elfman's Batman Returns, however) and that creative motif seems underused throughout the score. Likewise, there doesn't seem to be a creative instrumental representation of the woofing dogs (such as what Jerry Goldsmith did in The 'Burbs), a definite opportunity missed. The other noteworthy aspect of Cats & Dogs is the numerous similarities in theme to James Horner's prior works. While there are some subtle references to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and The Pagemaster in some of the comedy cues, the theme for Lou is a direct relative of Horner's The Land Before Time, another talking animal film. Overall, Cats & Dogs confirms Debney's obvious talents in composing large-scale, silly scores. Each of these entries predictably functions in their respective films, but in this case, Cats & Dogs doesn't feature enough outlandish creativity in instrumentation to make it distinctive on album. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For John Debney reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.23 (in 49 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 2.97 (in 43,790 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.19 Stars
Smart Average: 3.17 Stars*
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 33:54

• 1. Main Titles (2:40)
• 2. The Neighborhood (3:10)
• 3. Lou the Dreamer (1:44)
• 4. Meet Mr. Tinkles/The Formula (2:04)
• 5. Kung-Fu Kats (2:28)
• 6. Meet the Team (1:21)
• 7. The Russian! (2:53)
• 8. Team Theme/Montage/The Discovery (4:04)
• 9. Tinkles Plots/Limo Ride/Flocking Factory (3:41)
• 10. Blasting to Headquarters (2:23)
• 11. Lou Saves the Day (3:41)
• 12. Lou's Alive! (2:11)
• 13. Dress-Up Time for Tinkles (1:32)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes a list of performers, but no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Cats & Dogs are Copyright © 2001, Varèse Sarabande. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/28/01 and last updated 2/8/09. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2001-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.