Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. United Arab Emirates/USA, 2018. Blumhouse Productions, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Meridian Entertainment, Symbolic Exchange, Universal Pictures. Screenplay by Brandon Camp, based on the 1974 motion picture by Joe Camp. Cinematography by Thomas Scott Stanton. Produced by Jason Blum, Brandon Camp. Music by Kostas Christides. Production Design by Kevin C. Lang. Costume Design by Dana Embree. Film Editing by Carsten Kurpanek.
The popular seventies family film is updated to the modern age in this graceless animal adventure. Two stressed-out children in New Orleans have the misery of their widowed ambulance driving mom alleviated by their finding an unusually intelligent, scrappy little orphaned pup. When they enter a pawn shop holding their father’s watch and accidentally stumble upon a robbery, the bad guys take them hostage and whisk the children away, leaving our heroic but resourceful canine hero to help save them. It’s a kid’s movie so the shamelessly indulged opportunities for cuteness should be easily forgiven, but none of the emotions expressed by the actors ring true for a moment and none of the adventure is the least bit fun. The filmmakers can never decide if the four-legged star is blessed with real-world doggy intelligence or the kind that only exists in movies (he can practically make a sandwich in some scenes), veering between cheesy manipulation to absolutely preposterous stunts that increasingly test your patience.