The Truth About Cats & Dogs



The Truth About Cats & Dogs

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Lehmann
Produced by Cari-Esta Albert
Written by Audrey Wells
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Robert Brinkmann
Edited by Stephen Semel
Noon Attack
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • April 26, 1996 (1996-04-26)
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $34,073,143 (USA)

The Truth About Cats & Dogs is a 1996 American romantic comedy film directed by Michael Lehmann, starring Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman, Ben Chaplin and Jamie Foxx, and written by Audrey Wells. The original music score was composed by Howard Shore. The film is a romantic comedy in the style of Cyrano de Bergerac, where two women date the same man, resulting in large explosions in their friendship.

Plot summary

Abby Barnes (Garofalo) is a veterinarian and host of a radio show called The Truth About Cats and Dogs. When she makes a blind date with Brian (Chaplin), a caller to her show, her insecurity about her appearance leads her to persuade her more conventionally attractive (though less intellectual) friend Noelle (Thurman) to pretend to be Abby on their date.

Both women develop feelings for Brian, leading to a series of comic misunderstandings. Brian's persistence in pursuing Noelle in person is thwarted as Noelle tries to maneuver him toward the real Abby.

After Abby behaves jealously while drunk and embarrasses herself at a photo shoot, she leaves and it appears to her that Brian and Noelle sleep together. However, Noelle actually leaves too, and Brian, distressed by Noelle's changing attitude, corners Abby in her apartment where he finds evidence of her real identity as the radio host he fell for through her voice. As Abby and Noelle attempt to explain, Brian decides he has been the victim of a practical joke and leaves in disgust.

Abby later approaches Brian at his regular bar and explains what happened, and although initially dismissive, he eventually meets with Abby and he has fallen for the real Abby and was only attracted to Noelle because of their deception. He suggests they start again, and Abby happily agrees.


Actor Role
Uma Thurman Noelle Slusarsky
Janeane Garofalo Abby Barnes
Ben Chaplin Brian
Jamie Foxx Ed
James McCaffrey Roy
Richard Coca Eric
Stanley DeSantis Mario


Many movie reviewers found a similarity to the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, with Abby as the talented but "ugly" Cyrano, Noelle as Christian and Brian as Roxane.

Uma Thurman said about the ugly-versus-beautiful theme, "We probably keep going back to that idea because there's a whole industry that needs to sell a lot of products that wants us to think that the outside is the important part. There's a war going on. The inside's not as commercial as the outside. People are so affected by how they're received in the world, and some of all of our first experiences are based on how we're externally judged. The conflict between the inner and the outer is a constant battle everybody experiences on lots of levels."


The film received positive reviews from critics. It has an 84% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

The reviewer for The State Journal-Register (of Springfield, Illinois) wrote that the film...

is a modern-day fantasy, to be sure -- a movie based almost entirely on one long, not particularly credible misunderstanding. But don't think too hard, or you'll underestimate this fragile little movie's bite, which is considerable... The stubby, feisty and, of course, not at all unattractive Garofalo and gangly, not-as-dumb-as-she-seems Thurman make for very appealing odd fellows as they inhabit the sunny Santa Monica landscapes and chic apartment settings... Cats & Dogs gets a little goofy, but stays within its limits. For actress Garofalo, who confidently spits out words like 'misogynist' and 'biosphere,' it should be nothing short of a launching pad. When the skeptical, challenging Abby confronts one of those laminated, condescending, jargon-spouting cosmetics saleswomen, we see a star in the making. Holly Hunter, watch your back. And short, smart and just-regular-looking girls everywhere, rejoice.

The Boston Herald reviewer named the film "the romantic comedy of the season." The Fresno Bee called it "an offbeat charmer." The Hartford Courant said, "This movie asks all kinds of questions about the defenses people put up and what they really have hiding inside." Many reviewers criticized the idea that Garofalo's character was expected to be viewed as unattractive, finding it unrealistic due to the actress's natural beauty.

Although the film was a decent commercial success, in later years Garofalo was not proud of the film, saying...

I think it's soft and corny, and the soundtrack makes you want to puke, and everybody's dressed in Banana Republic clothing. The original script and the original intent was very different than what it wound up being when it became a studio commercial film. It was originally supposed to be a small-budget independent film where there would be much more complexity to all the characters, and Abby and the guy don't wind up together at the end."

Several years after the film's release, Garofalo became an actual radio talk show host — something she'd maintained for years in interviews that she wanted to do — when she co-hosted The Majority Report on Air America Radio.


Box office

The movie recouped its budget. It grossed about $34,073,143 in the United States by 11 August 1996, and a bit more overseas.

See also

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