Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



It sometimes strikes me as odd that in these reviews, I often devote pages and pages to films I hated, and like amounts to films that were only so-so but which sparked off a tirade on one thing or another … and then I often have little to say about the really, really, really good movies. I guess it’s a case of, when something is that good, what can I say? This one is like that; Pixar have topped themselves again. I could rhapsodize about the incredible color palette. I could tell you of the hair-raising adventures, but that would spoil it for you. I could point out that having an elderly man as the central character had most pundits calling it either incredibly daring, or foolish, or scratching their heads—will the kids go see this? You just don’t do that! But it all works gloriously. And judging from the box office, the kids did go see it. In the first ten minutes I was wiping away tears, and ten minutes later I was laughing very hard. This is a very funny movie, and a very touching one.

But I’m going to single out just one of many, many aspects that made it special: The dogs. How many talking-dog movies have you seen? If you love animation, like I do, it’s at least dozens, from Lady and the Tramp to Bolt. But how many animated movies have you seen where the talking dogs act like dogs? I haven’t come up with one. The ingenious thing about this story is that the mad scientist has invented a collar that translates a dog’s thoughts into human speech, so the animators can have it both ways. These are smart dogs, well-trained to be obedient to their masters … but when somebody shouts “Squirrel!” they all are completely distracted. “Where? Where? Where?” They can’t resist a thrown tennis ball, either. It is hilarious to hear the things running through their minds, because they are all things that, if you’ve ever owned a dog, you know are what a dog does think. Most of the dogs are big and scary: Dobermans, Rottweilers, bulldogs, etc. But the star of the show is a goofy golden retriever named Dug, an underachiever whose dream in life is to do good for his master. He’s my favorite movie character so far this year. Wait till you see him imprisoned in the infamous Cone of Shame …