Shaggy Dog

Movie Review by Ania Kalinowska

Starring: Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Zena Grey, Spencer Breslin, Danny Glover

Director: Brian Robbins

Family films are a curious breed. It is only on made-for-the-whole-family grounds that you’d encounter a dad who doubles as a dog, and saves the world when he’s not too busy chasing cats and scratching fleabites.

Tim Allen stars as the ultimate career-obsessed modern dad – an assistant DA so entranced in his work that he forgets about the wife and kids neglected at home. It is while handling a case on animal cruelty and genetics gone wrong, which (not surprisingly) involves a few mad scientists that he gets bitten by a wise 800 year-old sheepdog and starts turning furry himself. You bet your dog food, there are lessons to be learnt here.

A remake of the 1959 same-named film in which a boy would change into a hound due to a magic spell, this comedy adventure is a fur ball of old-school Disney fun. It’s predictable, its underlying premise is ludicrous, it involves animals, and you don’t get far without acknowledging the simple distinction between right and wrong. It also stars an ageing actor with a collection of flops under his belt, but rather than discuss Tim Allen’s questionable career, note that he makes a really good canine. All in all, it is this traditional mix of straightforward fluff that makes THE SHAGGY DOG really easy to swallow.

And so it should be, considering its kiddie-orientated target audience. A note of caution however: some of the scenes in this movie might frighten really young children. Older kids and adults will have no problems though, if they aren’t offended by the ridiculous dribble that comprises this movie!

Its best attribute is actually its ridiculous humour; of course it’s the type of harmless silliness that cracks you up only when you’re in the mood for a few senseless giggles. Once you shake off the overwhelming bout of criticism that has already thrown this film into the dump heap, you’ll find that while you’re watching something incredibly flawed, it can be thoroughly enjoyable at the same time.

This typical Disney fare won’t give you a deeply emotional experience, and the great thing is that it understands this. It knows what it is, and doesn’t try to be more. Like a well-behaved mutt, THE SHAGGY DOG knows its place.

This is a silly movie with ideas that have been expressed better a million times before and with actors (in virtually the same roles) doing it better a million times before. But if you let these sleeping dogs lie, you’ll leave the cinema grinning…

3 out of 6 stars

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