The Shaggy Dog
The Shaggy Dog, another tired retread from Disney, is so aggressively unfunny it should just roll over and play dead. Come on, guys, do something original for once.
The thing is, back in 1959 when the first Shaggy Dog came out, it was original. Disney favorite Tommy Kirk played a teenager who, stricken by an ancient curse, would turn into a sheep dog and back again at the drop of a hat. Fred MacMurray played his bewildered dad. It was pretty simple. But in this modernized redo, the premise is just too manufactured to be believed. It involves Deputy D.A. Dave Douglas (Tim Allen), a workaholic who abandons his loving family every chance he gets. In his latest legal case, he represents a big pharmaceutical company, run by the dastardly evil Marcus Kozak (Robert Downey Jr.), who secretly conducts illegal animal testing. Dave believes his client is innocent, until he is accidentally infected by a Tibetan sheep dog--who could hold the secret to internal youth--and morphs into a stick-chasin', butt-sniffin' mutt. Now, everything he thought he knew about himself and his family changes. You think?
Tim, Tim, Tim, what are you doing? OK, so we accept the fact Allen is the king of inane comedies (The Santa Clause, Christmas with the Kranks) and these movies, despite being critically slammed, have been moderately successful at the box office. But at some point, the actor must draw the line--and that point should have been before he said yes to remaking The Shaggy Dog. Yes, of course, he'd do an admirable job slowly turning into a dog, scratching behind his ears, chasing a cat, eating his cereal face first. It's a given. Still, to see him degrade himself in such a way is just painful. What's even worst is fact Downey Jr. decided to join the insanity. Did he really need the paycheck? The only laugh out loud moment, at least for me, is when Allen and Downey Jr. growl at each other--and the fact you now know Downey Jr. gets the dog bug, too, isn't going to change your opinion in any way.
Poor Shaggy Dog director Brian Robbins (The Perfect Score); it's not his fault he got saddled with such a lame production. It's obvious Disney lives in the past, wishing for the glory days when their 60s and 70s live-action movies were all that and a bag of chips. Do they really believe remaking every single one of those dated classics is going to bring in just as much box office dough? I guess it's the The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday redos that are too blame. They both worked, probably due to Lindsay Lohan's presence more than anything else. But she couldn't make Herbie: Fully Loaded work. Neither could Robin Williams in Flubber, a remake of The Absent-Minded Professor, or Christina Ricci in That Darn Cat. I can't wait for them to attempt The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes or The Boatniks. Aside from maybe appealing to a few grade schoolers or an odd PETA representative or two, The Shaggy Dog should have just gone straight to DVD.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 star.