Review: The Shaggy Dog

The Shaggy Dog

PETA members may take to The Shaggy Dog. Everyone else over the age of 10, however, will likely prefer a night of sniffing butts to this latest Tim Allen stinker, a lazy remake of Disney’s 1959 kids’ film that follows the travails of deputy district attorney Dave Douglas (Allen) after he’s bitten by a magical 300-year-old Tibetan sheepdog and begins uncontrollably transforming into a hairy canine. As a dog, Douglas comes to realize that he’s a lousy absentee husband to wife Rebecca (Kristin Davis) and father to activist daughter Carly (Zena Grey) and theater-loving, football-hating son Josh (Spencer Breslin), the latter of whose Grease adoration marks him as the Mouse House’s wishy-washy attempt to surreptitiously insert a gay character into a “family friendly” film. And as the star dutifully performs the script’s checklist of doggie affectations—peeing with his leg raised, lapping cereal straight from the bowl, chasing a cat, scratching himself—Brian Robbins’s anthropomorphic adventure proves itself to be about as inventive and intricate as a bowl of Purina. Of course, this new Shaggy Dog’s primary contribution to cinema history is simply its reconfirmation of the age-old fact that cash rules everything in Hollywood, as there’s seemingly no non-monetary explanation for how a thinly conceived project such as this could attract the likes of Allen, Davis, Danny Glover (as Allen’s perturbed boss), and Robert Downey Jr. (as an evil scientist using Dr. Moreau-style animal testing to achieve the fountain of youth). Watching stars slum their way to a big payday is wearying, but it’s not nearly as objectionable as enduring a story that steadfastly seeks one-dimensionality, its characters little more than sketchily defined types and its dilemmas so phony and facile that resolution comes as easily as saying “I love you” and “I’m sorry.” Then again, I guess you’d have to be crazed with rabies to expect even a modicum of imaginative entertainment from a remake that advertises itself with a phonetically challenged tagline like “Raise the Woof!”

 Cast: Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Zena Grey, Spencer Breslin, Danny Glover, Philip Baker Hall, Robert Downey Jr.  Director: Brian Robbins  Screenwriter: Jack Amiel, Michael Begler, Geoff Rodkey, Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley  Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures  Running Time: 98 min  Rating: PG-13  Year: 2006  Buy: Video, Soundtrack

Nick Schager

Nick Schager is the entertainment critic for The Daily Beast. His work has also appeared in Variety, Esquire, The Village Voice, and other publications.

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