Wednesday, March 22, 2006

SHAGGY DOG: Updated family treat

Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * 1/2
Tim Allen in his 'doggone stance'
IT is so much easier to recycle a winning formula than to create something new — and so we are going to see a number of remakes this year. Apart from The Shaggy Dog and Yours, Mine and Ours, we will be seeing the remake of Superman, When A Stranger Calls, Poseidon Adventure and TV’s Miami Vice. This is in addition to The Pink Panther released in Malaysia last month.

The Shaggy Dog is a rehashed version of the 1959 Disney movie starring Fred MacMurray. Tim Allen plays assistant district attorney Dave Douglas who is prosecuting a case involving a teacher who set fire to a lab that uses animals in tests. When Dave is bitten by a 300-year -old dog from Tibet, he transmutates and turns into a shaggy dog but retains his own mind.

The fun starts when he chases cats, fetches stuff and tries to convince his daughter Carly (Zena Grey) and son who he really is. One touching scene has his wife Rebecca (Kristin Davis of Sex And The City) waiting forlornly for him at a restaurant on their wedding anniversary while he appears outside the window, wagging his tail and holding a bouquet of flowers in his teeth. Of course, this transformation helps to make Dave a better father and husband at the end.

Allen is adept at physical comedy and he is convincing enough to make us fall for the canine in him. The ending, which has the menagerie of lab animals turning up to ‘wreak vengeance’ on their tormentor Dr Kozak (Robert Downey Jr) is pure Disney hokum.

To be sure, this Shaggy Dog, directed by Brian Robbins, is better than its original. In the lame 1959 movie, it was MacMurray’s son who turned into a dog. At least this one is inventive enough to update the story and factor in a number of feel-good subplots about being there for the loved ones.


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