"THE SHAGGY D.A."
by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Dean Jones as WILBY DANIELS
Tim Conway as TIM
Suzanne Pleshette as BETTY DANIELS
Keenan Wynn as “HONEST” JOHN SLADE
Jo Anne Worley as KATRINKA MUGGELBERG
Dick Van Patten as RAYMOND
Shane Sinutko as BRIAN DANEILS
Directed by: Robert Stevenson
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Although I saw the original “The Shaggy Dog” on television while I was a kid, I actually remember seeing its sequel, “The Shaggy D.A.” in the theater with my family when it was released. I was the perfect age for this kind of film, and this might contribute to why I liked this better than the first.
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“The Shaggy D.A.” continues the story of Wilby Daniels, the kid from “The Shaggy Dog” who was accidentally transformed into a sheepdog when he read the inscription on an priceless ring from Lucrecia Borgia. Now, Wilby is all grown up and working as a lawyer. Played by Dean Jones, who starred in a whole string of Disney films from that era, the character of Wilby is more sophisticated than he was as a kid, but still prone to unfortunate events.
After his home is robbed, Daniels and his wife Betty (Suzanne Pleshette) decide he should run for district attorney and clean up the town. His competition is corrupt incumbent “Honest” John Slade (Keenan Wynn). However, as Daniels’ campaign starts to get off the ground, that blasted ring shows up again, and he is transformed into the sheepdog belonging to Tim, the ice cream man (Tim Conway).
Okay, I’ll admit this premise is about as shaky – if not more – than the original. But there is still a fun family feel to it. Maybe I’m flashing back to my childhood before I knew anything about death, taxes and all the other nasty things the world has to offer. Whatever the case, I have a very soft spot in my heart for this film.
“The Shaggy D.A.” was directed by Robert Stevenson, who contributed a slew of Disney classics to its library – including “Old Yeller,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” and “Mary Poppins.” “The Shaggy D.A.” is easily overshadowed by the man’s greatness, but it’s still a sweet film.
Tim Conway does a great job with his schtick, even though it serves to pad the film more than aid the plot. Again, I grew up watching “The Apple Dumpling Gang,” so my earliest memories of Tim Conway is in these Disney treasures. If only the late, great Don Knotts were also in the movie.
It’s a goofy story, and it’s far from a brilliant movie, but “The Shaggy D.A.” is a fun romp for a family to watch. The little kid who plays Wilby’s son (Shane Sinutko) is a pain, but he’s underused. That’s a good thing. The movie is decently paced and gives enough slapstick and comedy to entertain. After all, any movie that has a massive cherry pie fight in the middle can’t be all that bad.
The DVD includes featurettes on the make-up effects as well as interviews with the cast in a retrospective piece. Finally, there is a feature commentary with Jo Anne Worley, Dick Van Patten and Tim Conway. It’s not as funny as you might expect, but it gives the insight into the film to enjoy it a little more.
Specifications: Dolby Digital Mono Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French and Spanish language tracks. French subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.