‘The Shaggy Dog’


After being bitten by a 300-year-old Buddhist canine that U.S. government commandos have snatched from Tibet (this is what it takes to make a dog movie exportable?), a workaholic family man and inveterate pooch-hater (Tim Allen) starts scratching behind the ears, hearing high-pitched sounds, slurping milk from the cereal bowl, and licking his wife’s face. And the grown-up viewer starts checking his watch. Disney’s tried-and-true slapstick material (est. 1959) is here given a heinously unimaginative interpretation by five screenwriters and a director who manages to squander the gifts of an absurdly overqualified supporting cast. The bit players (Robert Downey Jr., Danny Glover, Jane Curtin, Philip Baker Hall) barely clock screen time with the Bearded Collie, which may be co-producer Allen’s way of protecting his sleepy performance from competition. Where the original film generously reflected Cold War angst and budding youth-culture dissent, this dad-in-the-doghouse tract could’ve been made in 1995 . . . or 1985. My eight-year-old nephew sat nearly silent throughout, so when he says he had fun, he must be talking about the treats.