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|Pudsey the Dog: The Movie|
dir Nick Moore
scr Paul Rose
prd Marshall Leviten, Allan Niblo, Rupert Preston, James Richardson
with Jessica Hynes, Izzy Meikle-Small, Spike White, Malachy Knights, John Sessions, Luke Neal, Luke Tittensor, Wendy Nottingham
voices David Walliams, Olivia Colman, Peter Serafinowicz, Dan Farrell
release UK 18.Jul.14
14/UK Vertigo 1h27
Pet rescue: Neal, Hynes, Knights, White, Miekle-Small and Tittensor with Pudsey
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There was an opportunity to build a low-key franchise around a charming dog, but the filmmakers botch the job by neglecting to develop a script that has anything to it. Honestly, the messy direction, stiff acting and clumsy editing could be forgiven if the script was even remotely competent. Instead, the only things worthwhile are a cute pooch and some witty voice work.
Sacked from a film set for overacting, trained dog Pudsey (voiced by Walliams) wanders into London, meeting sparky teen Molly (Miekle-Small), her bratty little brother George (White) and their younger brother Tommy (Knights), who hasn't spoken since their dad left. To make a fresh start, their mum Gail (Hynes) moves them to the tiny village of Chuffington, and Pudsey stows away. As Gail and Molly flirt shamelessly with the hunks (Neal and Tittensor) on the nearby farm, their new landlord Thorne (Sessions) is nefariously planning to level the barns and erect a mammoth shopping mall.
The plot plays on every British adventure formula imaginable (Tommy actually falls into a well at one point), while the cinematography wallows in the gorgeous rural English countryside populated by a variety of cliches. But director Moore throws away any decent gags to focus on the unfunny vulgarity of a pig (voiced by Farrell) that thinks he's a chicken. Jokes are started and then abandoned without punchlines, while plot threads appear and disappear at random.
The script also indulges in rather shocking lapses in judgement, including some astonishingly rude innuendo and visual grotesqueness. There's also a ludicrous interlude in which Pudsey is sent to what looks like doggy Auschwitz, then leads the inmates in a shockingly lame escape after a bit of torturous rapping. Throughout, the editing is so choppy that Pudsey barely seems to be the same dog who won Britain's Got Talent. He does just one uninteresting trick over and over again.
In other words, every possibility is wasted. Without spending more money, this could easily have been an enjoyably scruffy dog romp, leading to further charming adventures. But the producers took such a lazy approach that they've probably destroyed Pudsey and trainer Ashleigh Butler's career, simply by neglecting to hire a writer or director who could tell a coherent story. Even the youngest children in the audience will smell a turkey.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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