Wednesday, November 28, 2007

(:)(:)(:) for The Shaggy Dog (1959)

Three snouts up for The Shaggy Dog (colorized version) made in 1959. I watched this movie the other day with my kids and I was surprised how well it held up. I kind of expected that it would be so silly and predictable that I would have to answer my email through the whole thing. Not that I was riveted, but it held my attention throughout.

Actually it made me realize (for the umpteenth time) how much worse most kid movies are today. Most of them rely on action, gadgets, visual tricks, and constantly changing images to hold a kid's attention. This relies on the old-fashioned idea of character development and story to hook you.

Fred MacMurray is at his finest as the grouchy (mailman Wilson Daniels) dad who hates dogs with such a passion that he reaches for his shotgun when one is nearby. The whole rest of the cast is wonderful. His sons are cast beautifully, especially Tommy Kirk as Wilby Daniels, the son who accidentally turns into a dog.

The movie takes pains to create a credible thread for its ridiculous premise. It's a joy to watch these kids in their 1950s vehicles and tuxedos driving around town (with Annette Funicello no less)--so cute!

This movie is well made, well-acted and directed. It's a predictable plot, but with some fun twists and a lot of genuinely funny physical comedy. I like that there's a cold war twist and cop and robber action but the only gun that ever comes out is Fred MacMurray's shotgun. There are no gadgets. There is no loud music. This is sweet fare for the whole family.

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