Australian Council on Children and the Media

Cats and Dogs

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Short takes

Not recommended under 5, parental guidance recommended for children aged 5 to 7 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Cats and Dogs
  • a review of Cats and Dogs completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 July 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 5-8 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 8 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Cats and Dogs
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level coarse language, low level violence
Length 87 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In a battle that dates back to the beginning of time, dogs have been fighting to keep humankind from falling into the hands of cats. Unbeknownst to humans, that battle continues today. Specialist spy dogs have been strategically placed in houses to ensure the safety of human assets.

Lou (voice of Tobey Maguire) is a typical puppy with an adventurous spirit, and is unknowingly thrust into the middle of the battle when he is chosen to become a part of the Brody family. With the support of Butch (voice of Alec Baldwin) and other spy dogs, Lou needs to protect Professor Brody (voice of Jeff Goldblum) who is researching a dog allergy vaccine for humans. Villainous cats want to reverse the vaccine to make all humans allergic to dogs. Their ultimate aim is to turn humans against dogs, thus installing cats at the top of the hierarchy!

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Animal distress and cruelty; kidnapping; children as victims; war

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Cats and Dogs contains a number of violent scenes, including:

  • A woman hits a dog with a broom, shouting at the dog to get out
  • A flashback into Ancient Egypt shows cats whipping and scratching humans
  • In a cartoon shot, we see a dog hitting a cat and pulling the cat by his tail
  • Cat ninjas parachute from the sky into the house. They use their ninja moves on Lou. The cats show their fangs. Lou starts to fight back by blocking and retaliating with kicks. The cat gives Lou a final kick which pushes him into the rubbish bin
  • An old man on many medical machines needs to have his heart restarted by having it thumped by his maid
  • The Russian cat spy coughs up weapons. He then uses the weapons such as knives, boomerangs and darts against Butch and Lou.
  • The Russian spy cat is strapped to a chair and interrogated
  • The Brody family is gassed in their car until they become unconscious
  • Mr Tinkles uses a toy gun which fires a cork, ricochets and starts a fire while the family are still tied to their chair
  • Mr Tinkles tells Butch that he wants to “crush him” with an earthmover, and picks him up in the jaws of the machine. Lou jumps through a window onto the earthmover and fights with Mr Tinkles to take controls of the machine
  • Mr Tinkles is shot at with a ‘fake snow’ gun

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A number of close up shots of Mr Tinkles show his fangs and his yellow eyes
  • Professor Brody tries his allergy vaccine but it doesn’t work and he comes out with boils on his face and hands

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A dog is almost hit by a car
  • A boy loses his dog and then struggles to bond with the replacement
  • We see a man in bed on a ventilator. He is unconscious. The cats move him to a car and then to a wheelchair and parade him through a factory.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

There are very mild sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Two dogs flirt with each other
  • A comment is made that a dog still has his “you know whats”

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

There is some substance use:

  • Professor Brody is seen injecting himself with his vaccine
  • The cats throw a gas canister into the family car, making the family unconscious

Coarse language

The following language is present in the movie:

  • stupid
  • loser
  • God forbid

In a nutshell

Cat and Dogs is an animated comedy portraying the battle for power between dogs and cats. It explores the sacrifices made by those who choose to “fetch and protect”. Lou is thrust into huge responsibility – to befriend his family, balance his duties, protect the Professor and save all humans from serving cats. There are many toilet jokes, scenes of fantasy violence and scary situations which may scare the very young.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • balancing work and family
  • dealing with loss of a dog

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children:

  • the view of cats and dogs presented in the film
  • loneliness
  • greed
  • misuse of power

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