The Shaggy Dog

| March 24, 2006

Not since Robert DeNiro in “Raging Bull” has an actor immersed himself completely into a role like Tim Allen does in “The Shaggy Dog”…
…Ok that is definitely stretching it, but I almost had you there didn’t I?
Tim Allen stars as Deputy District Attorney Dave Douglas. He is a father of two and a husband who works too much and doesn’t pay enough attention to his family. We have heard it before, but lets move on. His wife Rebecca is played by the most attractive Sex in the City cast member in my opinion Kristin Davis. Unfortunately, the role of the wife is so poorly written to just tearing up and questioning herself, that any woman off the street could have played it. Allen’s character is on a big case; he is prosecuting a local teacher for setting fire to a laboratory. The teacher claims the lab is experimenting on animals in crude ways and has enlisted the help of his students who believe his cause. One of the students protesting the case is Carly (Zena Grey) the daughter of Tim Allen’s character. Allen’s other kid Josh is played by Spencer Breslin (The Kid, The Cat in the Hat). I happen to think Spencer Breslin is a hilarious young actor, but once again the writing falls short in letting his true colors show. He was brilliant opposite Bruce Willis with hair in “The Kid”. In this film he plays a closet musical performer, who is scared his dad won’t approve, so he plays football instead. Again, the father figure doesn’t pay attention.
But this isn’t what you read the review for right? You want to know about Tim Allen turning into a dog. Well, Tim is bit by a 300-year-old dog from Tibet. After a day he starts feeling a little weird, and has mannerisms of a dog. It is in these little moments that I think Tim Allen does his best in this film. Also, his voice over work as the dog is pretty funny as well, as you can tell he must have done a little improv in there.
The best performance by far is from one of my favorite actors Robert Downey Jr. He plays Dr. Kozak, the head scientist at the lab. He wants to extract a gene from the 300-year-old dog, hoping he can find the fountain of youth. Even in a poorly written film like this, his performance is so campy, over-the-top, and fun that it makes you realize what kind of actor he is. He can go from a small film, to a bigger budget lead role, and then to a bigger budget kids film but still put forth enough energy to have a memorable performance. Another actor sort of wasted was Danny Glover, as Tim Allen’s boss.
Here is what is wrong with the film: The script. The role of the mother and the son needed to be better. And most of all…the addition of the song “Who Let The Dog’s Out”. Let me just say, this song may be number one on my list of songs that make me want to dry heave. I was glad that I was in an area of the theater with no kids, because I almost did. I don’t know what executive decided that this was the best choice for an action sequence, if you can call it that. Nonetheless, the scene actually would have been mildly funny and less annoying without this song. Although, I guess you can’t expect much from a film whose tagline is “RAISE THE WOOF!”
In conclusion, I like Tim Allen and was entertained throughout the film. I like kids films I will admit it. “The Santa Clause” is probably my favorite Christmas film. But as for “The Shaggy Dog” just go rent it during the summer when you don’t have much to do, or invite your little cousin over to watch it. It isn’t a GREAT movie. Nor is it a GOOD movie. In the realm of good kids films there are better ones out there. Especially from Disney, like last years “Sky High”.
On a closing note, I promised my friend I would include a special sentence in this review. “Some fans of Tim Allen may think that he SHED all of his acting credibility in this film.” And I am not pardoning the pun on this one, that was the point.

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