Kitty Galore, formerly an agent for cat spy organisation MEOWS, has gone rogue and hatched a diabolical plan to not only bring her canine enemies to heel, but take down her former kitty comrades and make the world her scratching post. Faced with this unprecedented threat, cats and dogs will be forced to join forces for the first time in history in an unlikely alliance to save themselves—and their humans.

Lumpish 3D spy parody lacks charm.

There are lot of jokes in this sequel to the 2001 Cats & Dogs hit movie. Let’s see; there are the Bond jokes, aside from the title (a not so sly reference to Pussy Galore, a femme fatale and spy in 1964’s Goldfinger). Then there’s the character of Kitty herself, voiced by Bette Midler, who seems to be imitating another Bond parody, Mike Myers, who in turn was mimicking Donald Pleasance’s hiccupy octives as Blofeld in the 1967 Bond film, You Only Live Twice.

In the story Kitty looks like a dog’s squeeze doll. (A droll gag if ever there was one.) She’s about the size of a big rat and has the complexion of a marshmallow and a rather crotchety disposition. Kitty, like Bond’s super-villains, wants to take over the world"¦ or at least the part where cats and dogs inhabit.

The other big movie in-joke here has to do with Mr. Tinkles, a very furry fat cat who is in prison. When we meet him he’s wearing the same face mask as Hannibal Lector in the Silence of the Lambs. I have to admit I laughed out loud at these and other movie-movie quotes. (And I laughed often since the movie is riddled with 'em.) But I have to say, it felt a bit strange since as even the most casual movie goer understands this movie, like the original, has a target audience of 5 to 10 year-olds. (Ah, gee, I suppose I could be generous and say it’s for everyone who is young at heart.)

Of course, the film’s producers at Warners and director Brad Peyton and writers Ron J. Friedman and Steve Bencich may be merely exercising the kind of marketing cunning that is de rigueur these days; even in a kids’ flick there’s got to be something in it for the mums and dads since they buy the tickets (as well as the popcorn). Trouble is, it seems that here they’ve got the balance all wrong. The movie doesn’t have the charm of a Toy Story film, for example, or the visual invention of any number of strong G rated animated fare of the last decade. To be sure the central premise is ticklish: oblivious to humankind the cats and dogs of the world are locked in a mortal combat"¦ Here the major plot gimmick is about putting our furry pals into high-tech high stakes situations using the kind of gadgetry last seen in, say, Mission: Impossible 2!

There’s a network of cat superspies (MEOWS) and a corresponding dog secret service. The success of these gags depends heavily on whether you think it’s funny to see canines driving space-type vehicles or rocket packs. For myself, I’m a sucker for a beagle in glasses and tie. (The cardi wasn’t bad either.)

Most of the voicing was pretty good; James Marsden is very funny as Diggs, a wilful German Shepherd who is partnered up with Nick Nolte’s gruff old dog Butch and assigned the task of nailing Kitty’s plot. Christina Applegate hits the right tone of smug indifference and earnestness as Catherine, a MEOW’s agent who reluctantly joins our dog heroes.

No matter that the film felt lumpish and witless, I have to say that the kids at the preview laughed a lot. If you go see it don’t be late; Warner’s are running a really funny new Roadrunner cartoon featuring a bungy cord, some heavy motor vehicle’s and Wile E. Coyote, who just can’t take a trick. It’s in 3D, too.