Because sometimes we like terrible films, and have no shame in admitting so.
I originally wrote this review a good few weeks ago but then misplaced it, and some might suggest it should have stayed that way. I mean, one recommendation for a talking dog movie might make people think I had a brief moment of insanity, but now two? But due to some bizarre dialogue and one of the greatest misjudgements in cinema history it’s actually surprisingly funny at times.
Essentially Miss Congeniality with dogs, this sees Max, a hardboiled Rottweiler police dog, investigate an animal smuggling scheme, and when he runs in to Will Arnett they both get in each others way and the criminals escape. An odd couple scenario arises as both are forced to go undercover at a dog show (though sadly Arnett is the owner and not covered in fur for such a role), until they earn each others begrudging respect, as happens in every single film of this type.
It starts off really badly and there’s a depressingly poor “Who let the dogs out?” attempt at humour within seven minutes of the movie starting, whilst a group of pigeons comment on proceedings it turns out one of them fancies Max, claiming “He can flip this bird any time”, which surely can only lead to the image of the dog fucking the bird to jump in to the audience’s minds. And that’s when I started liking this film! There’s a good few horrendous puns that barely make sense, like “You play defence? I play open fence”, whilst dialogue like “We cannot polish a turd but perhaps we can roll it in glitter” made me cringe a great deal. Yet as the movie continued I found myself starting to be endeared by it’s incredible naffness.
It’s partially due to the fact that I love Will Arnett and am willing to overlook many of his dodgier projects, and he does his absolute best here to liven up events. And as we reach the half way point the whole thing becomes so silly that I couldn’t help but laugh at it. There’s some great cgi in which the dog kicks ass, and various other bodily parts, whilst at one point for no reason at all he sinks his teeth in to Arnett’s testicles. And there’s also a part where our canine hero is given a bikini wax by Arnett, who relishes the idea of hurting his dog’s privates. I mean how could you not grow fond of such a fucked up film?
Which leads us to that incredible misjudgement, which really has to be seen to be believed. As the film came in for a lot of flack due to a storyline revolving around dogs having their genitals inspected by dog show judges (something which I’m told happens at all professional dog shows, somewhat disturbingly, and is yet another reason I’ve no interest in witnessing one live) which Max originally violently rejects, but is eventually persuaded to go through with. Yep, the moral of this film is if someone wants to look at your genitals you should grin and bare it and let them do so. The filmmakers claim it was accidental but it’s kind of hard to believe, though so they don’t sue us we’ll pretend that it was just a terrible mistake. Said scenes were edited out of the film two weeks after it’s release, and aren’t on the blu-ray release either, but because they’ve been edited out it makes some of the final scenes nonsensical, which made me laugh a great deal. Fortunately the cut scenes are on youtube here and here, and are possibly some of the weirdest moments ever committed to celluloid, but also some of the most amusing as well, if for all the wrong (if not very worst) reasons. But hey, it features Will Arnett dancing with a dog, and who hasn’t waited their whole lives to see such a thing?
There are a few other decent things about the film, in Natasha Lyonne Arnett has an age appropriate romantic foil (well, she’s only 9 years younger than him, which is pretty good by Hollywood standards), though sadly it doesn’t apply when it comes to our four legged friends, with there being over forty five dog years difference between the lead and the dog he fancies. Some of the supporting voice cast are strong too, especially Stanley Tucci as Philippe, a French Papillon and Alan Cumming as Dante, a haughty Yorkshire Terrier.
As with all films in this column it’s an acquired taste, and you have to enjoy bad films if you’re not going to end up turning it off within ten minutes. But if you have a fondness for such things, and occasionally like heckling movies too, you’ll find a fair bit to like about it. But I do promise this is the last talking animals film we’ll review for a long while in this column (though one day I plan to check out the Beverly Hills Chihuahua trilogy because I clearly have severe mental issues), and I’m aware I have no integrity left after this, but ah, what can you do.
Previous Oh The Humanity! Reviews:
The Karate Dog