Earth is going to the dogs
John Robert Hoffman
Running Time: 87 minutes
UK Certificate: U
Country: United States
Elf and Finding Nemo have both proven this year that fitting into the “family” bracket is no excuse for not coming up with the sort of material that can appeal to all ages. In fact, I personally think that those two movies are among the very best of 2003 in any genre. In comparison to such triumphs, lame doggy flick Good Boy is a major disappointment. Based on the book Dogs From Outer Space by Zeke Richardson, the movie stars 13-year-old Liam Aiken as Owen, a socially shunned youngster who finds and befriends an intergalactic mutt called Hubble (voiced with a hint of boredom by Matthew Broderick). It soon emerges that all canines are, in fact, from the planet Dog Star – and unless Owen can help Hubble create the charade that woofers rule the Earth, theyll all be recalled home by the Vanessa Redgrave-voiced Great Dane in charge. Oh well, at least our pavements would be cleaner. Its a flimsy premise in the first place, but the weak attempts at humour and seeming desperation to avoid all costly sci-fi special effects make for fairly humdrum viewing. Its main strength is its cuteness, and the heartwarming stuff works better than the comedy. But talking animals have been put in plenty of other movies over the past few years, with far greater effect. Babe, Cats and Dogs and the Dr Dolittle films all spring instantly to mind, and all of those work on a much better level than this one. Its all totally harmless of course, and there are a few mildly amusing moments but even the youngest of cinema-goers arent likely to be massively impressed by the bulk of it. All I can say to parents is, if youre after a trip to the pictures with the young uns this holiday season, choose the delightful Elf over this one. That way everybody will be happy.
It's Got: The requisite quota of fart jokes for a dog-based movie.
It Needs: To make better use of a decent cast.
Alternatives:Babe, Beethoven, Cats & Dogs, Dr Dolittle
An ever-so-slightly feeble fam-com to end the year on a bit of a dull note.