Film

Film

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This unwarranted iteration of the ’70s shaggy-dog tale pales in entertainment value compared to its website, which features a rant from the mutt’s creator, Joe Camp. Therein, a born-again yet embittered Camp attributes his self-distribution inspiration to The Passion of the Christ, and says he felt compelled to save families from violent, scatological Hollywood through Benji’s resurrection. “Today you have to give kids what they want,” Camp claims a young industry exec lectured him, “and what they want is poop jokes.” Whether Camp’s mission was compromised by including a wisecracking cockatoo who croaks “butthead” is debatable, but the plot certainly hinges on the threat of violence from a puppy-hurling, child-abusing, wife-beating dad. This grim scenario is melodramatized Lifetime TV–style, concluding with (stop reading, Christian toddlers! Spoiler alert!) a self-reflexive appearance by Joe Camp. Strangely, the role is played by an actor; perhaps the man himself was unavailable due to a severe bout of St. Gibson syndrome.