Any pet owner will tell you that after a while, a pet becomes more than just a pet. It becomes a member of the family. I Heart Shakey is a film that gets right to the heart of that matter and will make pet owners everywhere cheer for the brave protagonists in the film. And what’s a family film without kids who can outsmart adults and dogs who can outsmart humans?
From the beginning, there’s a very child-like innocence about the film, and it sports a spirit of adventure. When JT O’Neill, a newly single parent, gets the opportunity to pursue his dream in becoming a professional chef, he, his 10-year-old daughter Chandler, and their pet Shakey leave their hometown of Toledo and head for the big city of Chicago.
Unfortunately, the trio is met with the news that absolutely no dogs are allowed in their new home, Independence Plaza. With the prospect of losing her best friend, Chandler isn’t sure what to do. Fortunately, she, her dad, and even Shakey have a few ideas up their sleeves.
Chandler and her father have a wonderful and very real relationship. Despite the young girl’s precociousness – which is often attributed to such films – it is easy believe in the bond that she and her father have, and that makes the film more enjoyable. It also has its fair share of genuinely humorous moments, which are sure to delight children and parents alike.
I Heart Shakey has its share of of two-faced and over-exaggerated characters, and villains. From the evil Landlord Estelle Willinger (who seems to be a mash-up of Cruella DeVille and Mrs. Oleson from the Little House series, but perhaps a bit more high strung) to the naive maintenance man with a chip on his shoulder, Oskar Jerski, I Heart Shakey is chock full of really fun, unforgettable characters.
I Heart Shakey is solid because, while it is outrageous and kid-friendly, it is honestly entertaining and somewhat unpredictable. Unfortunately, some of the unpredictability is due to the overly numerous plot twists and turns. The movie probably could have ended a few times before it actually did (including one scene with a war veteran that would have made quite a lovely ending), but made its way to a satisfying end all in all.