Friday, 3 April 2009

Movie Review - Good Boy

Owen Baker, a young boy with no friends (due to his parents moving every two months or so – they live off the profits of renovating and then selling houses), is desperate to have a dog. Enter Hubble, who is a normal dog in every respect… other than the minor detail that he’s just flown from the Home Star (Sirius, the Dog Star) on a mission to assess the state of dogs on earth. They were supposed to take over the planet when they arrived thousands of years ago.

Obviously Hubble is not impressed by what he sees. But then he learns the meaning of real canine-human friendship. (Aaaaaaaahhhhhh…) However, there are more problems to be overcome before everything is hunky-dory…

Owen is played by Liam Aiken, who is a very fine young actor indeed. His parents are played ably enough by Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon – though the father is given practically nothing to do. The neglect of their son sometimes comes to their notice, but not enough for them to do anything about it – until the predictable (but sweet) end. In a freak accident with Canine technology, Owen becomes able to understand doggy language (naturally, they can all understand human speech

The voice actors for four-legged characters are great (the dogs themselves are also pretty good!), and include the talents of Matthew Broderick (as Hubble) and Brittany Murphy (as Nelly, an extremely small and nervous dog). The lip-synching is amazing, I don’t know how they did it but the dogs really do look as if they’re talking.

This is definitely aimed squarely at younger children (and puppies, presumably), but is done in such a way that adults who don’t take themselves too seriously (like those who smuggle home-made popcorn into cinemas) can also thoroughly enjoy it. I wasn’t honestly expecting to like it, but I did. It’s sweet, soppy, funny in places, and unpretentious. (And, I am reliably informed, definitely better than Cats and Dogs - though I haven’t seen that so I couldn’t comment – yes my wife is “helping” me write this review… deep joy… :-P)

There are some very funny moments in the film, my favourite being when the other dogs try to learn how to fly. (Gravity is much higher on Sirius, so when Hubble leaps for a ball he attains quite an altitude). Some of the humour is a bit lame, but enough of it works to make the film as a whole enjoyable.

Recommended for children and families. (Like one or two in the cinema, kidlings may end up sobbing their little hearts out at one scene near the end, but they’ll recover…) Adults will probably enjoy it if they’re in a silly mood.

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