The Shaggy Dog (2006) / Comedy-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: PG for some crude humor
Running Time: 98 min.
Cast: Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Robert Downey Jr., Zena Grey, Spencer Breslin, Jane Curtin, Danny Glover, Craig Kilborn, Philip Baker Hall, Joshua Leonard
Director: Brian Robbins
Screenplay: The Wibberleys (Cormac and Marianne), Geoff Rodkey, Jack Amiel, Michael Bergler (based on the 1959 movie, The Shaggy Dog, and the 1976 movie, The Shaggy D.A.)
Review published March 23, 2006
I'm not sure "Who let the dogs out?", but this dog belongs to Disney. Please, send it back.
Tim Allen (Christmas with the Kranks, Who is Cletis Tout?) stars as deputy district attorney Dave Douglas, whose latest case involves prosecuting his daughter's biology teacher, who has been accused of setting an animal testing lab on fire. The lab in question happens to be performing radical experiments using the genes of an apparently 300-year-old sheep dog from Tibet, hoping that splicing the gene into other animals will result in humans living vastly longer lives. The dog escapes, gets semi-adopted by Douglas' family, and promptly bites Dave, injecting him somehow with magic doggy genes that cause him to exhibit some very dog-like behavior before completely being transformed into a sheep dog himself. Complications within Dave's marriage and the animal rights case are compounded, followed by efforts by the ringleader of the animal testing facility, Dr. Kozak (Downey Jr., Good Night and Good Luck), to apprehend Dave for more sinister, grotesque tests.
Seriously, if you didn't know that The Shaggy Dog is a remake combining two popular live-action Disney films, you'd read the above plotline and wonder how in the world such an awful idea for a family film could ever be made by a major studio. Disney has obviously bought into the notion that people out there really find Tim Allen a funny enough physical comedian to want to see behaving like a dog. Think again. Tim Allen eating face-first into a bowl of cereal isn't funny. Tim Allen lifting his leg to pee isn't funny. Tim Allen chasing a cat across the street on all fours isn't funny. Heck, let's face it, Tim Allen isn't funny.
Every possible canine activity is explored, with the possible exception of Tim Allen humping a stranger's leg, licking his own balls, or getting "knotted" with his wife during the lovemaking act. Not that these five screenwriters and director would never think to do something like that (their individual previous efforts include low-brow features like Ready to Rumble, Bad Boys II, Daddy Day Care, and The Prince & Me), but being Disney, they obviously were shooting for no more than a PG rating. I suppose given the level of bad taste they were already willing to explore, we should all be thankful for that restriction. Having already endured the similar Rob Schneider vehicle, The Animal, I certainly didn't want to see the same thing done all over again with an equally desperate Tim Allen.
Perhaps the worst aspect of this already difficult-to-stomach film happens to be the conception of the special effects. It's one thing to have to endure Tim Allen emerging from his dog-like state without any clothing on (speaking of, where does his clothing go?), but did all of the effects have to have a level of cheesy bad taste to them to make me feel queasy in my seat? Watching snakes with bushy tails, dog-frogs, furry dog genes injected in bloodstreams, and sheep dogs with Allen's eyes is about as disturbing to witness as any gore-laden horror film in recent memory. What's worse, none of these depictions of inhumane mutations are funny in the slightest fashion.
The Shaggy Dog isn't the worst film of the year, but it may certainly rank as the toughest to have to endure for many that actually expect huge-budgeted releases featuring many big-name stars to be at least somewhat worthwhile. Given the track records of everyone involved in this monstrous menagerie of disturbing sights and sounds, I suppose I should have braced myself by not eating for at least a half-hour before the movie, as my stomach was on the verge of turning at several times throughout the film. Warning to parents: taking your children to this may result in an alert to child protective custody for possible abuse charges.
PETA members, you may like the anti-animal testing messages, but I have to disagree on one point; I know of at least one Shaggy Dog that deserves to be put to sleep.
©2006 Vince Leo