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Dog Eat Dog (2001)

Semi-watchable Brit-com

Directed by:

Moody Shoaibi

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 92 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

On one hand, ‘Dog Eat Dog’ deserves kudos for giving its lead roles to four unknown black actors and presenting a film that portrays London’s cultural diversity without ever making a big deal out of it. On the other hand, you’ve got to question how much good it achieves when those same four black men are eventually seen turning to crime as a means of solving their various problems.

One of those characters is Rooster (Mark Tonderai, who co-wrote alongside director Moody Shoaibi), who’s in a spot of bother over money owed to his local Nigerian pornographer (well, we’ve all got one). Things aren’t looking much better for pals Jess, CJ and Chang (Nathan Constance, David Oyelowo and the ridiculously-named Crunski), what with woman trouble, kiddy custody problems and the angry shadow of stereotyped drug-dealer Jesus (Gary Kemp) hanging over them.

As the tale steadily degenerates into farce, the hapless foursome set about kidnapping a famous dog and sending a ransom note to its apparently loaded owner – but, as it happens, they can’t even get that right.

Despite having their problems outlined fairly clearly, the friends never genuinely seem all that desperate, which is probably why their decline into outright criminality never quite rings true. That’s partly due to the fairly mediocre quality of acting on display, but it’s largely the below-par writing that has to shoulder the blame.

Not only does the script fail to produce many laughs from a string of set-pieces with substantial comic potential, but it also wastes an impressive supporting cast. Ricky Gervais does next to nothing as a rarely-seen nightclub doorman, a virtually unrecognisable Melanie Blatt is restricted to standing around in full-blown ned-wear, and never have I seen the normally-terrific Alan Davies so completely unfunny.

John Thomson also pops up as a disgruntled football coach, though it has to be pointed out – if only for nit-picking’s sake – that he yells at one of his players to “start marking that number 9”, even though the opposition clearly aren’t wearing any numbers on their backs. Much like the film as a whole, it’s sloppiness that could easily have been put right.

It's Got: Two canine fatalities.

It Needs: To cut out the needless dog deaths!

DVD Extras Nowt but a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Human Traffic, Kevin and Perry Go Large, South West 9, The One and Only

Summary

A semi-watchable Brit-com with some lame jokes and a squandered cast.

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