ONE STAR – Shallow, Immoral

The “Truth About Cats and Dogs” is based on a lie.  The lie is pervasive, not just in the deception which Abby (Janeane Gorofalo) so unashamedly uses on Brian (Ben Chaplin), but the lie the film perpetuates on the audience.

       Though billed as a romantic comedy and positively reviewed by many in the secular press, this film is an empty shell offering a depressingly erroneous image of human relationships.

       The lies are many.  From the opening scenes in which all men are displayed as shallow worshipers of female beauty, to scenes in which phone sex is displayed as innocent and safe dating behavior, the audience is fed a consistent diet of stereotypes, pseudo intimacies and amoral behaviors.

       Written by Audrey Wells, her images of human relationships imply that female deception is a natural and even justifiable response to the male domination of relationships.

       The basic plot of the film is the insecurity of a plain woman who lies about her looks to an admiring male.    As a talk-show veterinarian, Abby’s show titled, “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” causes Brian to call and ask for help. 

       Enticed by her confidence, wit, wisdom and warmth,  Brian asks to meet her.  But when he asks what she looks like, her insecurity and lack of integrity cause her to lie and describe herself as Noelle (Uma Thurman), the tall blond beauty in her building.  The deception proceeds along predictable lines as Abby and  Noelle continue the dishonesty.

       The problem of course is that Brian is a person to whom they shouldn’t lie. 

       Rather than admitting that external beauty matters to both men and women, the film implies it is her problem only.   This greatly weakens both the humor and impact of the film.

       The truth is that men and women must both grow in their acceptance of their own identity as well as that of others before we are capable of loving another human being unconditionally.

       This growth is hampered when both men and women focus on attempts to create an external persona based on what they think others want them to be.

       It is further hampered when the internal spiritual self is not even acknowledged, let alone developed with any depth of character.

       Rather than turning to honesty and spiritual development, Abby and Noelle decide that the solution to their deceit is to get drunk and high on drugs with Brian and then to see which of them he chooses.

       Even if this solution was presented only as a satirical comment about the decision-making ability of these young women seeking direction in their relationships, it was not funny but sadly destructive.

       If this solution was presented as the only recourse left to women who have no more knowledge about relationships than can be discovered in magazines, then it again presents a depressive lie.

       Noelle, in her attempt to understand her own destructive relationship with an abusive male, relies on the advice of a magazine.  She advises Abby to do the same.

       The moral counsel of the Bible and relationship counseling of reputable therapists is far different from the pop psychology and entertainment of magazines.

       Fulfilling relationships are based on the development of character.  To apply the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to this situation, a person is not to be judged by the color of their skin or the beauty of their face, but the content of their character.

       The character of all three of the leading characters of this film was immature and uninformed. There seemed to be no real reflection on either their own deeper spirituality or the nature of relational health.

       The pseudo intimacy of phone sex was a sad and unfulfilling substitute for the creation of a lasting, honest relationship in which real intimacy could flourish.

       The “Truth About Cats and Dogs” is a vacant stage absent of any depth of moral or spiritual example or even discussion.  This film doesn’t even make it into the discussion of a deeper life or the truth about relationships.

Posted on June 1, 2011 and filed under 1 STAR, SHALLOW, IMMORAL.