To say my expectations were high for 2008's Cop Dog would be an understatement akin to dubbing Clive Owen okay-looking or nachos a mildly enjoyable snack or this picture of bulldog puppies kinda cute.
C'mon: based on the kind of WTF trailer that defies any sense of ‘typical kids film,’ my heart was set on canine thespian Kuma’s title role to change my life.
Let us see if it did.
Quick Plot: Poor Marlowe looks awfully bored sitting in a cage at a K-9 training center, where all his four-legged friends are busy running through hoops and practicing scent trails. Some fancy editing tells us that Marlowe’s human police partner died nearly one year ago and his widow and son Robby are still picking up the pieces.
Not of the dead guy, at least, not literally (though the fact that he died in an explosion does lead me to now wonder). Robby has become moody and weird, leading his mom to consider stashing him away at some form of Cuckoo’s Nest-y juvenile facility. To perk him up, she agrees to adopt Marlowe who would otherwise be put out of his misery/boredom by going to a glue factory.
As a housedog, Marlowe isn’t a champ. He takes a liking to chewing up shoes, running amuck, and chasing the sexy lady dog.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, we know she’s a lady dog because she has pink bows on her ear, which actually has more of a weird schoolgirl porn star feel but what can you do.
Also on Marlowe’s list: catch the bad guys who killed his partner AND stole his Rick Grimes-meets-the-urban-sombrero hat.
As worn by Parker Lewis himself, all grown up with a shaggy Bill Paxton circa Titanic haircut.
Step back, Clive Owen. There's some fierce competition brewing...for my heart.
The bad guys--Parker Lewis and his lackey, a doofus whose sole character trait is that he chews more gum than Violet Beaureguard--are obsessed with unlocking a Lost-like hatch in the backyard of Robby, the same locale where pops saw his gruesome end. Of course, you would suspect that said Lost-like hatch is hiding something super secret and important, and I'm almost positive we do eventually discover what said super secret and important secret is. Except it's now been 18 hours since I've watched Cop Dog and like Guy Pearce in a sports jacket, I can't for the life of me remember what it was.
I think I drink too much.
In one of his typical acts of blatant bad behavior, Marlowe runs away from Robby to chase the loitering bad guys and promptly gets hit by a truck (meta-ly played by the film's director, John Murlowski, he of the vastly different Golden Christmas and Freeway Killer). Despite Robby's cries for WATER!, Marlowe joins his late partner in the heavenly afterlife...or does he?
In the world of Ghost Cats and Karate Dogs, one would think that "Cop Dog" was enough of a title hook to serve as a film's premise. Clearly, one is not familiar with the fanciful machinations of screenwriter Steven Palmer Peterson (he of the spectacular Lifetime original Murder On the 13th Floor, a 'thriller' that manages to obliviously insult career women and the African American race in a rather adorable manner). My completely uninformed understanding of the screenwriting process for Peterson went something like him saying this: "Sure, a COP DOG is neat, but what the kids REALLY want from their cinema is more GHOST COP DOGS. Now hand me another Zima!"
At Marlowe's funeral, his sad lieutenant bestows upon a despondent Robby the dog training whistle his dad used to use on Marlowe. Before you can say, "Oh! Is this a MAGIC whistle that will summon Ghost Cop Dog to aide Robby in the investigation of his dad’s murder," allow me to point out the fact that a dog training whistle might have come in handy a week earlier when THE DOG WAS EATING FURNITURE AND RUNNING IN FRONT OF TRUCKS.
But I digress. Robby soon discovers that it is indeed a magic whistle that will summon Ghost Cop Dog to aide him on his investigation, and the plot kicks in.
Because Robby's best friend's dad is a paranormal investigator with a stable Skype connection, the kids learn that they must solve the mystery of dad's passing within one year of his death or else pops and Ghost Cop Dog will be trapped in a horrible netherworld limbo (that is hopefully nowhere near as painful as the film Netherworld) forever. That's a lot of pressure to put on a kid during his summer break, but thems the breaks when Parker Lewis is rocking an urban sombrero.
Thankfully, his pal Deb is willing to do whatever it takes to catch these rascally villains, including participate in the strangest montage yet to grace Animals Doing Human Stuff month. See, after the kids discover one of the bad guys has an annoying--yet convenient--habit of leaving chewed up gum at the scene of the crime, Robby concocts a genius/really gross plan in 5 steps:
1-Collect recent receipts from nearby convenience stores that carry various chewing gum
2-Identify which flavor and brand of chewing gum has been left behind
3-Cross-check the findings with the receipts to identify which store the assailants have been frequenting
4-Hang out at said store until the bad guys come in and purchase the precise chewing gum pattern order
5-Kill them? In truth, the fifth step was foggy.
The real question you're wondering, of course, is how did the kids match the chewing gum to the receipts? The answer is simple:
Montage of two preteens pulling out sticks and spider eggs from days-old discarded gum to identify its flavor.
Maybe that's why my macaroni 'n cheese dinner wasn't as tasty as I expected it to be.
Much like Patrick Swayze after his tutorial with Vincent Schiavelli, Marlowe can occasionally harness some corporeal powers to attack the bad guys or, as revealed in the greatest coda of all time, impregnate a porn star terrier mix. In other words, it all ends happy with Robby NOT going to the juvenile crazy house and Marlowe spreading his seed to give us more ghost cop dogs for eras to come.
Aside from one of them being Parker Lewis, the villains in Cop Dog offer nary a note of being interesting. Perhaps my standards were raised to unreasonable heights following Craig Ferguson’s glorious turn in Lenny the Wonder Dog, but I don’t even remember what the bad guys actually wanted (other than gum)
Guys are handsome, not pretty
Sometimes people LEAVE and they DON’T come back
Contrary to popular belief, giving a dog that just got hit by a car water will not bring him back to life
After you have a nervous breakdown, you can see the world more clearly
Standard Animals Doing Human Stuff Trope Tally
New Kid In Town: X
Recent Dead or Divorced Parent: Check OBVIOUSLY
Montage: Check. And gag.
New Friendship: Check
Potentially Inappropriate ‘Friendship’ Between Child & Unrelated Adult (Human): X.
Evil Corporate Enemy: X. Parker Lewis answers to no one.
Evil Corporate Enemy: X. Parker Lewis answers to no one.
Original Song: I wish.
Bully Comeuppance: X
Small Town Values: X
Back To Nature Moral: X.
Overall Score: 3/10. But it has Kuma, so let’s adjust to 30,000,000,000,000,000,007/10 for more accuracy.
I'd like to thank all of you that hung around for this Animals Doing Human Stuff month, especially those rock stars who contributed their own reviews. I imagine most of my readers generally come here to learn about homicidal dolls and killer refrigerators, so I apologize if these past 30 days didn't quite satisfy your bloodlust. With a few years of blogging under my collar, I wanted to experiment a little more with some new types of cinema and as you can probably tell, the only things I enjoy nearly as much as horror is are good old fashioned terrible movies or, on the flip side, bizarrely misdirected gems that don't understand their audience. The ADHS genre is bursting with such treasures, some of which we got to ravage like a cat from outer space at an orgy, others that left us wanting, well, wanting more ghost cat. Ultimately, we had our montages, troubled kids, divorced/dead parents, bully comeuppances, and in a few glimmering moments, original songs that could possibly bring about world peace or destroy the music industry once and for all. It's a gamble really.
October begins tomorrow, and with that will come a full month exclusively devoted to the horror cinema you've come to expect from a blog about...you know...horror movies. So long as I keep that balance of candy corn and pumpkin beer at a manageable level, expect much.