Take a good look at the DVD case pictured here and then share with me your immediate reaction. Was it "Karate Dog, WTF?" or "Oh dear sweet lord, my eyes!" Perhaps it was "Didn't the voice of Chevy Chase learn anything from Oh, Heavenly Dog!?" or maybe "OK, that's it: Jon Voight officially needs an intervention." Frankly I believe that a DVD case like this deserves a little more exploration. How is it that a thing such as Karate Dog is created -- and what does it say about a culture that demands entertainment in which dogs that sound like Chevy Chase dabble in karate?
Suspect #1: Well, we get one easy answer right off the bat: Karate Dog was directed (about three years ago) by Bob Clark. Horror fans like myself will always hold Mr. Clark with some small semblance of esteem, because (long ago) he directed Black Christmas and Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, both of which are fine examples of low-budget horror-dom. But aside from the original Porky's and the unquestionably adorable A Christmas Story, Mr. Clark's resumé reads like a film critic's obituary: Porky's 2: The Next Day, Rhinestone, Turk 182!, From the Hip, Loose Cannons, Baby Geniuses, SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and now ... Karate Dog.
Suspect #2: Celebrated Hollywood actor Jon Voight, who is schizophrenically thrilled to wallow in the lamest slapstick imaginable between his pricier appearances in A-list Hollywood fare. In between Ali, Holes, The Manchurian Candidate and National Treasure, he produced (!) and starred in Baby Geniuses 2 and Karate Dog. His next farce, The Legend of Simon Conjurer, looks to me like some form of medieval dental torture. Reminder: Jon Voight is a four-time Oscar nominee, and winner of one.
Suspect #3: Get a load of this cast: (The Oscar-winning) Jon Voight, (the former porn actor) Simon Rex, (the voice of) Chevy Chase, (the late) Pat Morita, (the German) Thomas Krestchmann, (the formerly obese football-typecast) Ron Lester, (the aging sex kitten) Nicolette Sheridan, (the formerly famous) Lori Petty and (the desperately hoping to forget this flick ever happened cuz she's got a hit sitcom now) Jaime Pressly. Aside from Voight, I wonder how many of these actors got their asking price for Karate Dog.
Suspect #4: Screenwriter/producer Steven Paul, who in 1982 wrote the stunningly wretched Slapstick (Of Another Kind) -- and has never shown much improvement since then. Co-writer Greg Poppen, also of Baby Geniuses 2, spends most of his time writing ESPN material -- which sounds a whole lot cooler than being the writer of Karate Dog. Producer Frank Hubner has his name on Boat Trip, Dracula 3000, Funky Monkey and Extreme Ops. 'Nuff said.
Suspect #5: Screen Media Films, for actually buying this flick for distribution. There should be a law that says "Anyone who distributes a film must be required to sit through it at least three times." That way movies like Karate Dog would never even get bankrolled.
OK, here's the plot: Simon Rex is a computer-tech police officer who befriends a talking dog at the murder scene of Mr. Miyagi. The walking, talking dog goes home with the detective, and together they try to solve the case of How The Evil Jon Voight did it. Jaime Pressly plays a cop, Ron Lester the villain's rotund son, Lori Petty the voice of a computer called COLAR.
Frankly, and this is hard for me to say, considering how many terrible movies I sit through, Karate Dog's awfulness defies description. When you're not suffering over Simon Rex's painfully bland Jimmy Fallon impersonation or Chevy Chase's endless deluge of dog-mouthed wise-cracks, you're tortured by the moronic plot devices, the insipid dialogue, the wretched FX, and the overall desperate witlessness of the affair. Your embarrassment for the actors involved will be eclipsed by the humiliation you'll feel at watching such a lifeless spectacle; you will actually knock IQ points off your present tally; and you will begin scouring the internet for Bob Clark's email address.
And just wait till you get a load of the "Cyrano" scene in which a tongue-tied Rex tries to woo a blank-eyed Ms. Pressly while a dog with Chevy Chase's voice tries to help from the bushes. In Bizarro-World, Karate Dog is The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The movie makes Baby Geniuses look like Lord of the Rings.
And don't give me any of that "Oh it's for kids so it's OK that it's astonishingly stupid garbage," because I think kids deserve a whole lot better than this small-brained, dim-witted, and biblically interminable movie. You can practically feel the laziness and contempt was over you as Karate Dog unfolds, because it's obvious from Frame One that nobody involved with this production was even remotely interested in making a "good movie." Helen Keller could have made a better movie using only a Polaroid camera and some paper dolls.
Video: Anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1). Looks fine, all things considered.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, but you better bump your volume up if you wanna catch all of Chevy Chase's worthless canine mutterings.
Extras: There is a god.
It's not that the idea of a walking, talking, karate-chopping dog is too stupid to even consider making a movie out of...
Actually, I take that back. It IS that the concept is so darn stupid, combined with the fact that the thing is so shoddily put-together, I'm surprised the DVD even works.