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Good Boy!
2003 - PG - 90 Mins.
Director: John Hoffman
Producer: Peg Healey, Stephanie Allain, Bill Banneman, Lisa Henson
Written By: Zeke Richardson and John Hoffman
Starring: Liam Aiken, Kevin Nealon, Molly Shannon, Brittany Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Hunter Elliot
Review by: Joe Rickey
Talking animal films are quite common. Sometimes, the films are corny yet still manage to be decent films such as Babe. Then there are other times when one wonders what the filmmakers were thinking when they conceived their abomination. Cats and Dogs, a fairly big hit at the box office a few years ago, fit more snugly into the latter category of films but still was popular because of a very marketable and well-known high concept. Generally, talking animal films are aimed squarely at children and not usually enjoyed by the parents forced to take them to what is likely the latest exercise in tedium for anyone not currently attending elementary grade school. Thankfully, Good Boy is somewhat successful as a film that will appeal to both its target audience and adults also.

The plot of the film involves the idea that dogs have been on the planet to take it over but have not been able to do so. More recruits arrive from outer space in a last ditch attempt to succeed in the ultimate mission.

First off, what works in Good Boy surrounds it seemingly undying love for its canine stars. The film consistently talks of message that dogs and animals in general are the perfect companion for their human counterparts. This sort of passion about animals in a film is rare these days when they are often used for cheap laughs or unceremoniously killed in such films the 2003 remake of Willard. Director Hoffman is a self-professed animal lover and it shows in his handling of the material. While the animals aren’t always portrayed at super intelligent beings, they are never overly stupid or otherwise intellectually inert creatures.

The film also succeeds in some of its comedic gags that center on the intellectual ability of dogs as opposed to humans. There are various quips made about how canines have tricked humans into obeying their command by doing such things as feeding them and cleaning up after them. Dogs, therefore have subconsciously taken control over their world. At least that’s what the film is trying to get across. Unfortunately, not everything is as rosy for the film.

The human actors are sub par in their quality. Such people as Kevin Nealon and Molly Shannon do plenty to embarrass themselves, as they are incredibly annoying characters that actually seem more like caricatures more than the aforementioned characters. The main problem is that they embody one-note personalities that never proceed to grow during the duration of the film. As the human lead, young Liam Aiken is obviously an experienced actor as he struggles with consistency in line delivery and forces dialogue too often. Therefore, a high quantity of his scenes where emotion is required comes across as painful to behold. With practice he might become a solid actor, but as of now he is seriously lacking as a thespian.

Overall, Good Boy is a film that can be slightly recommended if just not for the message it dictates, for the solid first time direction by Hoffman and a creative storyline.

Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

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