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The Shaggy Dog

Someone put this dog of a film out of its misery…

Following in the footsteps of the summer remake, Herbie: Fully Loaded, comes Disney's latest remake attempt, The Shaggy Dog. While the aforementioned "Herbie" actually did manage to entertain (at least vaguely), The Shaggy Dog is about as stale and flavorless as a ten-year old Milk Bone. Euthanasia would be too kind for this painfully humorless attempt at family comedy.

Tim Allen stars as the distracted and daft Dave Douglas. Dave is an assistant district attorney jockeying for his boss' District Attorney position (Danny Glover must have been hard up for work to take this role on). Much to the chagrin of Dave's already estranged family, Dave gets mired in a high profile case that creates even more distance between the would be D.A. and his wife and kids.

Dave's client is the odd and eccentric Dr. Kozak (in a wasted role by Robert Downey Jr.). Little does Dave know that Kozak has captured a 300-year old Tibetan dog that possesses remarkable longevity (in case the "300 years" didn't already tip you off). Naturally, Dave runs afoul of the nearly immortal mutt and after a nip on the hand finds himself behaving like more of a dog than he usually does.

One would think that a man turning into a dog would open the door to all kinds of absurd scenarios, belly laughs, or at least a few chuckles (see the relatively obscure Howie Mandel vehicle, Walk Like a Man). Perhaps in the hands of a director more astute and creative than Brian Robbins this would be the case. Unfortunately, Robbins doesn't do much with the premise. What we're left with is the obligatory scene of Tim Allen chasing a cat, knocking over an elderly woman, and peeing on one leg.

What doesn't help is Tim Allen's typically hammy, lowest common denominator humor. Admittedly, I've never been a fan of Tim Allen's brand of "humor", but after garbage like Christmas with the Kranks and The Shaggy Dog, you've got to wonder exactly who is packing the theaters to see Tim's shtick.

Above and beyond Allen's tired performance, director Robbins populates this film with some odd casting choices. Kristin Davis (of "Sex and the City") being the most notable. Davis plays Dave's wife, Rebecca. Rebecca is far too attractive for a garden variety chump like Dave.

Secondly, while it's clear Rebecca has an affinity for self-flagellation by sticking with Dave, she's smarter than Dave. Their relationship just doesn't jibe. Granted, their relationship makes a bit more sense when Dave becomes a dog…he's infinitely more attractive and endearing in these moments.
While the remake trend shows no signs of slowing, one can only hope that a lackluster offering like The Shaggy Dog will give studio executives pause. Unfortunately, The Shaggy Dog is one of the few films in the theaters (aside from The Hills Have Eyes (a remake as well) ) that can truly be considered "family friendly" and thus, will likely make some money. But, couldn't dumbed-down, inane, saccharine drivel be considered as damaging to families as any imagery visceral horror film conjures up?

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars