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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Good Boy!: Special Edition
Good Boy!: Special Edition
MGM // PG // March 2, 2004
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted March 7, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Movies about superior life forms coming to Earth in order to establish dominance are legion in number. From television shows like Third Rock From The Sun to From The Day The Earth Stood Still, we have likely all encountered a movie in this sub-genre. Long ago, a little movie released by Walt Disney, The Cat From Outer Space, showed us the perspective of a common house pet as being from another planet, and visiting Earth for purposes unknown. In that vein, a dog of a movie was released last year, Good Boy!, a story about a dog checking on the status of an invasion force sent long ago from Sirius (the dog star according to astronomers), comprised of fellow dogs.

The movie focused mainly on a young boy, Owen Baker (Liam Aiken) who comes across a dog while walking a bunch of pets to make money. One thing leads to another and he soon owns the dog, naming him Hubble (voice by Matthew Broderick), leading him into a number of crazy situations when he finds the dog can talk. The dog also has a superiority complex, mainly because his race is capable of space travel and other advanced technology, but Hubble is concerned that his leader, The Greater Dane (voice by Vanessa Redgrave), will be upset when she visits and finds the invasion force long domesticated by the human race. Most of the story is a comic series of misadventures between Hubble and Owen, as they struggle to understand one another, accompanied by such notable stars on voice-overs like Brittney Murphy, Carl Reiner, Cheech Marin, Delta Burke, and others in limited roles like Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon (SNL regulars).

Okay, the themes of getting along with one another despite our differences came up a lot, just as those involving being who you are were noticed a bunch. For the most part, the preachy nature of the movie was much like most movies directed at kids, and this one was definitely directed at a younger (or maybe senile) audience. The leaps of logic were numerous and the gimmick of using computer CGI to make them talk would've been best left in the doghouse. I never had a problem with the old Benji movies or Look Who's Talking series in how they handled the matter (the lips of the dogs moving looked hugely fake).

As far as the entertainment value of the DVD, I'm a dog lover and I thought it was really weak in virtually all cases. I had a friend's kids' watch it and they wandered off twenty minutes through the show, giving you the best way to look at this one. I'm rating it as a Skip It based mainly on the lameness of the movie, although I have to admit, the extras were good enough to make me appreciate them (even though the aspect ratio scam bothered me a lot). There are numerous other movies to enjoy with your family so unless you have a really dull kid to entertain, leave this one at the pound.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. Sadly, the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 was not adopted on this DVD release in favor of the full frame "kid friendly" ratio that chops off major portions of the picture to expand the picture into the square ratio most televisions have at this time. Otherwise, the colors were fairly accurate and the grain not too bad although the video noise was somewhat bothersome in the night scenes. The detail was a bit lacking as well and the print scratches and compression artifacts were not too noticeable.

Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of tracks including the superior 5.1 Dolby Digital surround English track, a 2.0 Dolby Digital French or Spanish tracks, or the audio commentary track. There were optional subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Cantonese but I had been hoping for one in Mongolian. In any case, the audio was okay but nothing special, something I found odd considering it was a feature built on voice-overs. The audio wasn't terrible but it wasn't very detailed or complex with plenty of vocal levels needing a better mix into the movie. The music would often over power the vocals and I found that distracting too.

Extras: The best extra for me was the audio commentary with writer/director John Hoffman, Liam Aiken, and Molly Shannon. Most of the time, John and Liam were doing all the talking and the comments ranged for incredibly goofy to insightful, making it worth listening to at least once. There was a lengthy documentary that showed the making of the movie, with plenty of comments from the creative crew as well as the voice actors. There was a section for pooch profiles that gave some trivia about the seven kinds of dogs used in the movie. There was an interactive map, of sorts, that had clips by the director and cast acting like the dogs were really human. There was a six and a half minute long featurette where the animal trainer for the movie, Bonnie Judd, showed how to train a dog to do some simple tricks. There were seven deleted or alternative scenes with optional commentary, a few of which should have been kept in the movie. There was a brief question and answer feature with the voice actor of Hubble (Matthew Broderick) in character. There was also a photogallery and some trailers as well.

Final Thoughts: Seventeen million dollars were spent making this movie and I think it'll make its money back after all is said and done but that is the only bright spot of the release. The audio commentary wasn't bad but when the commentary is better than the feature itself, you know you have a dog of a movie on your paws. The technical aspects aside, the story just didn't merit a treat so I'm sending this one to the Vet to be put down.

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