Diversity Lesson: Cats and Dogs Unite Paws in New Animated Film

With humor and charisma, dogs and cats join their paws in the animation “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” (no premiere announced in Portugal) to save a village in danger, while teaching a lesson about diversity.

The film hits US theaters this week and features the voices of Michael Cera, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Mel Brooks, Michelle Yeoh and Samuel L. Jackson.

Directed by Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King”, “The Little Stuart Little”), the animation tells the adventures of Hank, an underrated beagle dog who dreams of becoming a samurai. So he ends up in a small cat village in Kakamucho.

Before wielding a saber, the lone Hank makes up for his lack of physical training with persistence. The dog will, however, have to face another challenge: winning the hearts of most of Kakamucho’s cats, who are suspicious of him for being different.

“I think it’s a message that is always relevant and necessary,” says Michael Cera, who voices optimistic Hank in his yellow kimono.

“I think it’s good to bring these messages through art, it’s not just telling others what you think, or following this character and seeing what she faces and the emotions she lives”, added the actor.

“It’s a good way [de fazer isso]especially so the kids can digest it and empathize,” he added.

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“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” is inspired by the racial satire “Rumble in the West” (1974), by the legendary Mel Brooks, and uses humor to address social prejudices.

Played by Ricky Gervais, Ika Chu is the villain of the day: the ambitious Somali cat seeks to conquer the traditional village of Kakamucho for his own benefit and counts prejudice as a key element of his evil plan.

The villain sends a dog to deal with the cats, only to find out later that the two animals, sometimes friends and sometimes enemies, can put their paws together.

“What is this world where you can’t count on good citizens to kill someone just for looking different?” laments Ika Chu.

“It’s a conflict”, ponders George Takei, who is the voice of the manx cat Ohga, the villain’s right-hand man.

“But we are able to recognize each other’s strengths as well as differences. And differences can be an advantage,” adds Takei.

Known for his political and social activism, the 85-year-old actor considers that the film arrives with “a good message” in the current times.

“We live in a broken society. Every headline in the newspapers, or on television, speaks about the divided society we live in”, observes the veteran, always remembered as Hikaru Sulu in “Star Trek”.

For Takei, the project was an opportunity to make audiences laugh and bring families back to theaters after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Something Michael Cera hopes to do soon.

“I can’t wait to see a movie in the cinema again,” said the 34-year-old actor, who said he contracted the virus a few weeks ago.

“I think everyone really missed that experience and I’m glad we’re back.”

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Diversity Lesson: Cats and Dogs Unite Paws in New Animated Film

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