J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Rescue Dogs: Write a Check, Skip the Movie

When you reach the stage in life when you start to receive frequent invitations to fundraisers, you eventually realize you are often better off sending a check and skipping the soiree. Essentially, this film is a case in point. It features real life rescued cats and canines and it has a number of screenings this weekend to benefit cause of animal rescue. Unfortunately, the shticky execution cannot match the good intentions. Goofy humans have healthy relationships with their pets, but they are completely lost when it comes to every other aspect of life in M.J. Anderson & Haik Katsikian’s Rescue Dogs (trailer here), which opens today in select markets.

Essentially, Rescue follows the formula developed by the Look Who’s Talking franchise, but with none of its subtlety. Throughout the film, the various critters and varmints will contribute their running commentary through voice-over narration and sometimes talk amongst themselves, apparently through some form of animal telepathy.

Every morning, Charger helps his socially inept owner Tracy cook up eggs and chorizo at his surfside breakfast shack, because even if you are a beach bum, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Actually, his business plan is not working out so well. If he does not make this month’s rent, the bank will take possession of the beachfront shack.

A greedy golf course developer will do everything he can to hinder Tracy, including sending round a government health inspector. Needless to say, the doggie in the kitchen does not go over so well. Things look bad on the restaurant front, but Tracy’s romantic outlook is even worse. Despite the brewing crisis, he still finds time to pursue the red-headed Bridgette, who thinks he is a dance instructor named Fabiolo. You have no idea how awkward that subplot gets.

As true blue Tracy, Paul Haapaniemi tries so hard in the jokey dance sequences, it is truly painful to watch him crash and burn. To be fair, he develops some okay chemistry with Courtenay Daniels’ Bridgette, but sitting through the dumb, slapsticky humor surrounding them gets to be a chore. However, screenwriter Jordan Rawlins has nobody to blame but himself for his wince-inducing scenes playing Tracy’s drugless stoner brother Harper, who fancies himself a treasure hunter (thereby telegraphing the third act surprise way in advance). His annoying persona could be described as a poor man’s Jamie Kennedy, which is quite impoverished indeed.

Charger is a good boy, yes he is. Unfortunately, the motor-mouth voice-overs do not match those soulful brown eyes. Better luck next movie Charger. At least he fares better than Bridgette’s meathead gym rat hamster, Hambone. Those sequences will tax the patience of even the most zoologically-enamored young children.

It should be clear what we are dealing with here. If you are a mentally competent adult that wishes to support animal rescue, just cut a check to the cause and skip the benefit screenings. For those who insist on doing things the hard way, Rescue Dogs opens today (4/1) at the Marcus Addison Cinema in Chicagoland has special benefit screenings this Saturday and Sunday mornings (4/2, 4/3) at the Malverne Cinema on Long Island.