If you don’t remember that there were two movies prior to “Paws Unite!” then I personally don’t blame you. The first two movies basically took a painfully derivative premise and did a pretty okay job creating a talking animals’ action movie for the whole family. The third film in the series that no one asked for, “Paws Unite!” pretty much works as a loose sequel. It’s loose because it’s apparent that the screenwriter never actually saw the original films.
After “the great truce” allowing cats and dogs to work together, dog Roger (Max Greenfield) and cat Gwen (Melissa Rauch) investigate goings on around the world for Furry Animals Rivalry Termination (or… FART). When a megalomaniacal Cockatoo named Pablo intends to wreak havoc and pit cats against dogs again, Roger and Gwen assemble a team of animals to find Pablo (George Lopez) and put an end to his (and his army of pet store agents) terror. Meanwhile their human owners (Sarah Giles, Callum Seagram Airlie) are experiencing teenage angst that threatens both of their important jobs.
If you’re one of the five hardcore fans of the first two films, you’ll be sorely disappointed In that the writers ignore virtually all the rules and lore established in the first two films. The plainly low budget, painfully bland, follow up includes dogs and cats working together for some reason, all the while the humans in the film play little to virtually no role in what happens in the central premise. Their whole purpose revolves around pretty non-animal related scenarios. Roger’s owner Max is a tennis prodigy with an overbearing mother, Gwen’s owner Zoe is an aspiring musician whose musician father is about to get them evicted from their apartment over his inability to pay the rent.
Neither sub-plot is all that interesting despite the best efforts from the young cast to inject some sense of dramatic momentum. With the low budget the writers stall as much as they can in delivering special effects laden action, something the original films loved to do. Here it’s a lot of discussion, exposition, and let’s face it: pure filler. Heroes Gwen and Roger spend at least ten minutes of the run time assembling a group of animal agents to stop the film’s animal villain. Rather than the pairs of animals battling one another, they fight an evil (Mexican?) parrot who leads an army of animals including a tarantula, a lizard, and other assorted stationary animals that don’t require a ton of animation.
“Cats & Dogs 3” is terrible; it’s generic, inoffensive junk that barely works as background noise, when all is said and done. There are about a thousand other (much better) talking animal movies out there worthy of child audience.
Along with the DVD and Digital Copy, the release from Warner comes with Animal Charades: Making Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite! a five minutes talk with the cast and filmmakers, all of whom discuss the challenges and joys of working with all of the various animal actors, and the tricks to training the animals to do what they want. There’s behind-the-scenes footgae, and interviews with producer Andrew Lazar, director/executive producer Sean McNamara, animal trainers Larry Payne, Diana Gautier-Eyben, Tracy Gardhouse & Lori Boyle, animal handler Brad McDonald, and the film’s central cast. Cast Reveals All: Deep Animal Thoughts is a three minutes feature with the animal cast sharing their thoughts about life or whatever is on their minds via thought bubbles. Finally there’s the two minutes Gag Reel.