"THE SHAGGY DOG"
by Kevin Carr
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|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Tim Allen as DAVE DOUGLAS
Kristen Davis as REBECCA DOUGLAS
Zena Grey as CARLY DOUGLAS
Spencer Breslin as JOSH DOUGLAS
Danny Glover as KEN HOLLISTER
Robert Downey Jr. as DR. KOZAK
Directed by: Brian Robbins
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With a bit of embarrassment, I do admit that I kinda liked the latest version of “The Shaggy Dog.” It’s not that there’s anything to be embarrassed about in the film, really. It’s just that “The Shaggy Dog” is such an unabashed formula family film that it’s hard to believe you can get sucked in.
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But I did.
I remember watching the original film on the old Walt Disney television show in my youth. Having had a chance to watch it again recently, I do admit that it has lost a little bit of something. Maybe it’s Tommy Kirk who can’t transcend generations. Or maybe it’s because it was basically just a TV movie from the 50s. Or maybe it’s because I find it hard to believe that no dog actually sniffed Tommy Kirk’s butt in the movie. Whatever the case, I do realize that they couldn’t just make the same movie, and they had to update it.
Like the original “The Shaggy Dog,” this film is primarily made with kids in mind. The level of humor is aimed at kids, and it’s a relatively safe and fluffy story (no pun intended).
Instead of focusing on a teenager who turns into a dog, this version of the film focuses on Tim Allen, a lawyer itching to become the district attorney. In a way, this borrows a bit from the sequel to the original film, “The Shaggy D.A.,” but again isn’t the same story.
Allen plays Dave Douglas, who spends more time working than being with his family. When a magical 300-year-old dog bites him, Douglas starts to transform into a dog himself. This new form allows him to mingle with his family like he never has. He learns that his son would rather be in musical than on a football field, and he learns that his daughter really does take her political causes seriously.
As a dog (and at times as a man), Douglas must help his family reveal the cruel and unusual experiments a pharmaceutical company is performing on animals.
Okay, I realize the plot isn’t great. It’s a kid’s movie, for crying out loud. The producer even admits in the commentary of the film that they didn’t care too much about the plot and wanted to focus on the comedy and the characters. (Sometimes people are a little too honest in those commentaries, now that I think about it.)
Tim Allen is perfect for this role, which gives him another solid Disney film under his belt. In fact, some of the funniest moments in the film take place when he starts to display dog behavior. And aside from some low-brow humor, including some butt-sniffing scenes, the comedy is tame enough for the whole family.
The DVD comes with a bloopers reel and several deleted scenes. There’s also an audio commentary featuring the director and the producer. Finally, there’s a new sort of special feature aimed at the dogs in your house. An alternate setting to the sing-along of “Woof, There It Is” allows you to turn on a barking track to keep your dog occupied. This track is a bit annoying, but the DVD manufacturers get an A for effort.
If your kids like dogs, and they’re young enough, they should love “The Shaggy Dog.” My kids do, and I still can’t get my five year old to stop quoting the film: “Is there anyone here that hasn’t sniffed my butt?”
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Full screen (1.33:1) and widescreen (2.40:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French and Spanish 2.0 audio. French and Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.