SHAGGY DOG, THE
Deputy D.A. Dave Douglas (Tim Allen) spends more time at work than at home with his wife (Kristin Davis) and kids (Zena Grey, Spencer Breslin). His latest case involves an animal laboratory, and when Dave is infected by a top-secret, genetic-mutation serum, he turns into a replica of the sheepdog that bit him. Now, with four paws and a furry brow, Dave sees life from a different angle and becomes privy to his families' hopes and dreams. Chasing cats and frisbies is all very well, but how can Dave get his own life back, when the animal lab's Marcus Kozak (Robert Downey Jnr) has other plans for him?
Review by Louise Keller:
A charming, furry tale about family values, The Shaggy Dog is a comedy fantasy that barks new meaning into a dog being man's best friend. Tim Allen injects his good natured humour in this Disney remake of the 1959 film in which he turns into a sheepdog, and in doing so gets close to the family from whom he has distanced himself.
In the same vein as Freaky Friday with a four-legged twist, The Shaggy Dog is paw-lickin' good. It's funny, engaging and despite being penned by five screenwriters, is surprisingly well structured. After Allen's dog-hater Dave is bitten on the hand by a 300 year old sheepdog whose extraordinary genetic mutation is being compromised by a get-rich quick animal laboratory, he feels a little strange. Not surprising. Nor is it surprising that these are the film's funniest moments, when Allen still looks like Allen, but behaves like a dog. Allen scratches behind his ears, sleeps on the end of the bed, laps cereal from a bowl and dreams of chasing cars. With his newly acquired acute sense of smell and hearing, a long tongue that gushes out unexpectedly, there are many opportunities for broad comedy. Not withstanding the other animal scene stealers that include a wonderfully trained sheep dog with a quizzical expression, a snake with a fluffy tail, a giant frog with the face of a pug, barking rabbits and a yapping chimpanzee.
All the cast is excellent, and Robert Downey Jnr makes juicy mayhem as the manically ambitious scientist dazzled by the lure of unlimited wealth and immortality. The fact that Dave reverts to his old self at night, brings repeated opportunities for the conversion from man to dog, and in doing so offers a welcome change of pace. I chuckled in the court room scenes, when Dave presents exhibits between his teeth and growls at the judge, who is definitely not amused.
The heart of the film lies in the relationships between Dave and his family, and he learns more about them as a dog, than he ever did as a man. Watching Allen as a big, floppy sheepdog telling his wife he loves her, is about as funny as it gets. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
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SHAGGY DOG, THE (PG)
CAST: Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Robert Downey Jr, Danny Glover
PRODUCER: Tim Allen, David Hoberman
DIRECTOR: Brian Robbins
SCRIPT: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley, Geoff Rodkey, Jack Amiel, Michael Begler
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gabriel Beristain
EDITOR: Ned Bastille
MUSIC: Alan Menken
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Leslie McDonald
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Vic: March 9; Qld: March 30; NSW/WA/SA: April 13
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
VIDEO RELEASE: August 30, 2006