A review of “Good Boy!” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: PG -- may be a wee bit intense for the little people

Run Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

 

 

What do you get when you cross a frisky team of talking dogs with an attention starved adolescent?  A dumb movie about talking dogs and an attention starved adolescent.

Owen Baker (Liam Aiken) is the goody-two-shoes of his block, a sweet, well-adjusted loner who walks dogs in order to earn money to buy his very own canine pal.  Owen’s well-meaning parents (Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon) are thoroughly wrapped up in remodeling and re-selling their latest fixer-upper, but reluctantly go along with Owen’s plan.

Down at the pound, Owen happens across the dog of his dreams, a wiry little terrier with a funny yowl and a foolish demeanor.  But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill pet.  No, this is Canid 3942, an interplanetary scout sent from the Dog Star Sirius to investigate why Earth’s dogs have not colonized and taken over the planet.

A starship cross-wiring snafu results in the rationally impossible: Owen and 3942 (re-named Hubble) are able to speak to and understand one another.  In fact Owen can talk to all the neighborhood dogs, and boy does he get an earful.

Eager to reinforce a state of dignity and dominance for Earth’s canine population, Hubble (voice of Matthew Broderick) asks for Owen’s help in readying the motley crew of neighborhood pups for a visit from the Dog Star leader, Greater Dane.  The fate of Earth’s dog population hangs in the balance!

Despite the consummate professionalism of child star Aiken (“Road to Perdition”, “Sweet November”, etc.) and an essentially funny premise, “Good Boy!” is a very long 83 minutes that plays to the lowest common denominator.  Bathroom humor and weak scripting punctuate a conventional storyline chock full of kiddie-film clichés, including neighborhood bullies, over-imaginative adolescents, and bewildered adults.  Occasional laughs (coyotes howl at the moon because they’re “homesick crybabies”) try hard but can’t salvage the tired storyline and pat conclusion.