This is a featherweight comedy tossed so lightly among its leading players that it generates real charm.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"The Truth About Cats and Dogs" is a featherweight comedy tossed so lightly among its leading players that it generates real charm. In earnest hands this movie would have sunk to the bottom of the sea. Score one for perfect casting; score another for writer Audrey Wells, who gives her actors some great lines that almost compensate for a mid-movie sinking spell, when the material becomes so thin it starts to shred and blow away, while we drift off to other profundities like what we have to do tomorrow.

In this playful romp through the minefield of beauty vs. brains, Abby (Janeane Garofalo) is a veterinarian who answers questions about pets on a radio call-in show. Brian (Ben Chaplin) is a photographer who falls in love with Abby's voice and calm presence. Noelle (Uma Thurman) is the friend Abby enlists as a stand-in when Brian arrives at the radio station to put the face to the voice.

The voice Brian loves belongs to Abby, whose love of animals gives her absolute confidence in dispensing funny yet compassionate advice to suffering pet owners. Off the air, in the game of real life, Abby's confidence evaporates, and she sinks into a puddle of low self-esteem that leaves her helpless in dealing with humans. We know in a shot that she needs a human with the warm and fuzzy heart of an animal.

Brian is so addled he doesn't even notice that the voice he loves comes out of the wrong mouth, but he does indeed have a warm and fuzzy heart, and who can resist a man who falls in love with a voice instead of a body?

Only a short woman can understand the exquisite humiliation of walking down the street next to a beautiful best friend who is 5 ft. 10 in. Even when the friend is an air-head, erasure is instant, complete, and permanent. The nice difference in this movie is that the bubble-brained Noelle has an abiding loyalty to Abby, even when she herself starts to fall for Brian.

Moving in long, lanky body sections, unaware of her own traffic-stopping persona, Noelle lends her entire effort to helping Abby, who turns and runs every time she edges up to revealing her identity to the lovesick, and by now thoroughly confused, Brian. Playing the "all beautiful women have to be dumb" role leaves Uma Thurman stranded in the weakest of the three leads, and she's not entirely credible as a loopy blond.

The movie succeeds--almost--on the extremely likable personalities of Janeane Garofalo and Ben Chaplin. Garofalo has an obvious intelligence and a great sense of fun tinged with the melancholy of a woman who wears her inadequacies loudly to cover the fact that she isn't a stereotypical beauty. Ben Chaplin's Brian is lovable without being coy, an emotional illiterate with sweet instincts. Together, Garofalo and Chaplin draw a winning portrait of a couple made absolutely and only for each other.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 484
Studio : 20th Century Fox
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 1h36m

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