The Shaggy Dog

Cast:
Tim Allen as Dave Douglas
Kristin Davis as Rebecca Douglas
Zena Grey as Carly Douglas
Spencer Breslin as Josh Douglas
Danny Glover as Ken Hollister
Robert Downey Jr. as Dr. Kozak
Joshua Leonard as Justin Forrester
Shawn Pyfrom as Trey
Bess Wohl as Dr. Gwen Lichtman
Jarrad Paul as Larry
Annabelle Gurwitch as Justin Forrester’s Attorney
Jane Curtin as Judge Claire Whittaker
Philip Baker Hall as Lance Strictland
Joel Moore as Pound Employee
Jeanette Brox as Janey
Kevin Cooney as Doctor
Rhea Seehorn as Lori
Craig Kilborn as Neighbor

Summary:
Despite a strong cast, “The Shaggy Dog” is predictable and unfunny. Kids will enjoy it but adults will be checking their watches.

Story:
This is a remake of the 1959 film “The Shaggy Dog” and the 1976 film “The Shaggy D.A.”

Dave Douglas is a hotshot prosecutor with his eye on becoming the next D.A. Unfortunately, he’s so focused on his career that he has neglected his son, his daughter, and his wife. He has even alienated his daughter Carly by prosecuting an animal rights activist accused of burning down a lab at a major pharmaceutical company.

Little does Dave know that his daughter is right about the company and the activist. The company has secretly dog-napped a 300 year old sheep dog from Tibet and conducted genetic experiments on it. When Carly and her friend set the dog free she takes it home. There, it bites the dog-hating Dave. Thus begins Dave’s transformation into a dog himself.

Dave struggles to deal with his new shaggy lifestyle, but it allows him to see his family in a new light. Determined to become a new man, Dave sets out to stop the company’s experiments and find a way to be human again.

“The Shaggy Dog” is rated PG for some mild rude humor.

What Worked:
“The Shaggy Dog” did have a few chuckle-worthy moments. Towards the end of the film when Dave and a bunch of genetic experiments break out of the lab, they go on a ride down the highway that generated a lot of laughs. There were a few other laughs here and there, but not as many as you might hope for.

Still, my kids loved the film. My daughter and son loved the movie any time Tim Allen acted like a dog or when the dog actually appeared on the screen. My younger kid got bored here and there during the “serious” moments, but overall he enjoyed it. That’s about the only thing that makes “The Shaggy Dog” worthwhile.

What Didn’t Work:
At one point early in the film, Tim Allen is seen in a courtroom. In the audience are Danny Glover and Robert Downey, Jr. Playing the Judge is Jane Curtin. At this point I thought, “Ooh, this is going to be good. What a cast!” Earlier in the film we had also seen Kristin Davis as Allen’s wife and Craig Kilborn as his neighbor. Throw in Alan Menken doing the music and you certainly have an A-Team of talent assembled. Unfortunately, it never panned out. Kilborn acted like an idiot, Curtin was barely used, and Glover barely had any screen time. And I don’t know why in the world Downey took this role (or was cast in it for that matter). In short, “The Shaggy Dog” never lived up to its potential and the talent they recruited was wasted.

Disney needs to forget about doing remakes of its old films and start doing more original material. This is simply a poor rehash of the previous (and better) films “The Shaggy Dog” and “The Shaggy D.A.” At least the 1976 sequel has the decency to continue the storyline from its predecessor rather than remake it. They also stuck with the magical theme rather than try to use scientific explanations for the transformation. This 2006 film could have easily continued the story from the previous films and broken new ground. Instead the same old jokes and storylines are retread and they are done so less amusingly. Actually, a few new jokes are thrown in. We get to see Tim Allen lift his leg and pee in a urinal, make a joke about his wife smelling like she’s in heat, have a dog nuzzle his crotch, and make a crack about how in the pound his cellmate sold him for dog biscuits. The only thing missing were bestiality and poop jokes. These crude jokes that do appear sail right over the heads of young kids (except for the pee jokes), but they were a little much for a Disney family film. Take note of the PG rating.

Besides being generally unfunny to adults, “The Shaggy Dog” is overly sappy much of the time. For a movie that features a man scratching, eating out of a bowl, and popping up naked in public, it takes itself way too seriously at times. There are numerous Hallmark card moments where the sentimental music plays and the dog looks doe-eyed while Allen says he wants to be a better man-dog. My eyes ached from all the rolling they did.

The Bottom Line:
“The Shaggy Dog” will entertain children, but adults will probably think the original Disney films were better. The lower you set your expectations, the better off you are.

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