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5 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Shaggy Dog, The (2006)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Aside from Downey, a film just as bad and predictable as it looks"
1 stars

“The Shaggy Dog” is a throwback to an earlier era of family filmmaking from the folks at Disney. However, the era in question isn’t the extended period when the studio put out one visionary masterpiece after another that ended only with Walt’s death in 1967, nor is it the post-“Little Mermaid” time in which the rejuvenated animation department began a string of commercially and critically successful hits. No, the era that this film flashes back to is that dire period of the 1970's when the moribund studio did nothing but crank out feeble-minded retreads and ripoffs of previous hits that must have been as boring to make as they were to sit through–stuff like “Superdad,” “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again” and endless sequels to “The Love Bug.” In fact, although it comes billed as a remake of the enormously popular 1959 film of the same name, “The Shaggy Dog” is actually closer to being a remake of the lesser 1976 sequel “The Shaggy D.A.” (a fact that even the writing credits admit) and even that generally worthless film had more charm and humor than this graceless and idiotic effort that will most likely unite parents and children in a state of utter boredom.

Tim Allen, trying to prop up his screen career until the next “Santa Clause” movie gets off the ground, stars as Dave Douglas, an ambitious attorney whose desire to one day become District Attorney has alienated himself from his own dull-as-dishwater family–wife Rebecca (Kristin Davis) feels neglected, rebellious daughter Carly (Zena Grey) begins protesting against one of Dave’s clients who is accused of illegal testing on animals and son Josh (Spencer Breslin) is afraid to tell him that he would prefer appearing in the middle-school production of “Grease” than playing football. As we all know, the best way for a man to learn to stop and smell the roses while learning to communicate with his family again is to be magically transformed into another creature and lucky for Dave, this very thing happens when he is bitten by a sheepdog that Carly liberated from the mean laboratory. This is no ordinary sheepdog–it has a curious genetic disorder that allows it to seven years for every one human year and the evil Dr. Kozak (Robert Downey Jr.) has stolen it from Nepal (for no other reason than to finally amortize the costs of sets leftover from “Kundun”) in order to use its blood to develop an anti-aging serum that will be worth zillions. Of course, that doesn’t really explain why the bite causes Dave to take on the characteristics of a sheepdog at inconvenient times–generally whenever it will cause extreme wackiness–but I guess we are supposed to let that slide.

If you have encountered the trailer in the last few months (one so lackluster that it inspired a chorus of groans from fellow critics who caught it before the media screening of “Chicken Little”), you pretty much know what to expect. Dave spends half of his time fully transformed into a sheepdog, during which he frantically tries to mend fences with his family while trying to convince them of his plight, and the rest displaying odd symptoms of doggie behavior in inopportune settings–usually in the middle of court where his incessant scratching and barking (not to mention his unique way of approaching a urinal) drives both his boss (Danny Glover) and the judge (Jane Curtin) to distraction. Essentially, there are only three questions that need to be resolved by the end of the film. Will Dave manage to reconcile with his family and still get the job of his dreams? Will Dave be able to expose the nefarious bad guys, preferably with the help of a small army of wacky CGI animal pals? Most importantly, will director Brian Robbins actually stoop to inserting “Who Let the Dogs Out?” on the soundtrack in a desperate attempt to score a cheap laugh by using the Radio Disney staple? Spoiler Warning! The answers are “Yes,” “Yes” and “Oh dear God, yes.”

I can’t say that I am an expert on either “The Shaggy Dog” or “The Shaggy D.A.” but to the best of my recollection, the former was an amusingly inspired riff on the werewolf film that viewers over the age of 10 could sit through without feeling too embarrassed and the latter at least had people like Tim Conway would could still wring a few snickers out of otherwise shopworn material. Despite a surprisingly strong cast for what is essentially a silly kiddie film, no one really seems comfortable with the broad and stupid schtick that they have been given to perform–Allen especially goes through his paces with the bored air of someone merely collecting a paycheck. The transformation stuff is done without any flair or humor and pales in comparison to the likes of the thematically similar “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” Worst of all, a good portion of the humor is surprisingly crude–there are so many jokes about butt-sniffing or toilet wackiness that even the six-year-olds are likely to grow tired of them. (For the adults, there is one oddball remark about Dave, now equipped with super doggie scent, thinking that his wife smells mysteriously like peanut butter that suggests that even the army of writers involved got bored and tried to slip some more salacious material into the cracks.)

The only spark of life to be had in “The Shaggy Dog”–one that doesn’t make the film worth seeing but offers a minor distraction for those forced to endure it–is a reliably freaky performance from Robert Downey Jr. as the central bad guy. Unlike people like Danny Glover, I know exactly why an actor of Downey’s talent would deign to appear in juvenile junk like this–he is still trying to demonstrate to the powers-that-be in Hollywood that he has cleaned up his act for good. Since he must have realized early on that this wasn’t going to turn out to be one of the highlights of his filmography, he seems to have decided to simply ignore the script and go off on his own goofy tangents and the sheer strangeness of his performance has a certain something to it that is at least momentarily entertaining. Towards the end, his character winds up exhibiting some doggie characteristics as well and the physical grace that he uses in depicting them is funny enough to make you wonder why they didn’t just can the lackluster Allen and give Downey the lead role in the first place. Alas, that would have been a good idea and such things were obviously at a premium where “The Shaggy Dog” was concerned.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14096&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/09/06 23:59:16
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User Comments

6/14/10 LINDA DOWDY Funny & cute the kids all love it and watch it over and over! 5 stars
5/25/08 brian Some laughs, but dreadful in between them. 2 stars
7/10/07 Tiffany Losco funny, cute 4 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK At least turn him into something interesting. like an alien from Aliens. as a piss take. 1 stars
9/25/06 Cara Rutledge The movie was cute! Some cussing 3 stars
8/20/06 Stephen Verhaeren Aviod at all costs! 1 stars
6/10/06 Chris It is not a well made movie, yet it doesn't completly fail but by no means spend alot on it 3 stars
6/07/06 Peggy Doty AWFUL 2 stars
5/15/06 david wilson this was rubbish the only good part was when my b/f boned me on the back row hes jo dollery 1 stars
5/14/06 Zaw Tim Allen go back to TV you idoit! and get off the Cocaine! 1 stars
5/02/06 Ashley Hinz Good enough to see once. Nothing special. 3 stars
4/23/06 alien assassin no more remakes PLEASE !!! 2 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Loved the original, but this one was surprisingly good as well. 3 stars
3/31/06 Josh Perhaps not as good as some of Tim's other work...but entertaining nonetheless. 4 stars
3/30/06 Leilani It was great 5 stars
3/25/06 ash love it 4 stars
3/13/06 Lester M. Davis Not as good as the original, but worth seeing Tim Allen. 4 stars
3/12/06 Hydrogen Ouch. It physically hurt watching this. 1 stars
3/11/06 Shaun Wallner Funny 4 stars
3/11/06 George W Bush It was too intelligent for me. 1 stars
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  10-Mar-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 01-Aug-2006



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