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Rescue Dogs (2016): Review

Rescue Dogs is a family film about a dog who helps his owner stop an evil corporate land developer from tearing down the beach front in order to build a golf course.

In the long history of talking animals in film, it is children of course who benefit most. Rescue Dogs is aimed squarely at the young and impressionable, lightly telling its story with easy dialogue and lots of colorful characters. While the humans are all appropriately silly and are firmly entrenched on either side of the very broad line dividing good and bad, it’s a harmless little adventure that has some laughs and very adorable animals. Those animals are the real stars, and are notable for what they are. Using actual rescue animals for the movie, the filmmakers are premiering the film at various animal rescue shelters to raise awareness and promote animal adoption.

The story follows a dog named Charger (voiced by Peter Oldring), a soulful-looking mutt with boundless energy. His human is Tracy (Paul Haapaniemi), a surfer-type chef who owns a small beach Tiki-hut-like breakfast shack. Thing is, he needs Charger to help him cook, the dog giving him signals as Tracy works the stove. Meanwhile, we can hear all of Charger’s inner monologues as he non-stop keeps a commentary on what’s happening. While these are all reaction shots with no lips moving, it is how all the animals talk to themselves and each other. Charger’s an endlessly upbeat yapper, who gets a little distracted at times but is faithful and an often funny character. Tracy donates the restaurant’s proceeds to local animal shelters, but his act of kindness is running the business his grandfather started right into the ground. It also gets the attention of Mr. Evil (Casey Campbell), the head of E-Vaul (say that a few times) corporation, who wants to build a golf course right where Tracy’s restaurant stands. Time for the animals to do some rescuing of their own.

Directed by M.J. Anderson and Haik KatsikianRescue Dogs isn’t trying to be anything more than a light-hearted, easy to digest, kid’s film with a good message. It plays right into the tropes of the classic dramas and thrillers it homages, though most references will go over the heads of the intended audiences, but at least the adults should notice. That’s probably most obvious with the aforementioned Evil, whose face is constantly in shadow and has a hairless cat. He sets about (with his bumbling henchman) to sabotage the restaurant with various obvious schemes. Tracy gets more help from his eccentric treasure hunting brother (Jordan Rawlins–the film’s screenwriter), who also owns a rescue dog named Callie (Tamara Garfield) that does everything she can to keep him out of trouble. There’s also Bridgette (Courtney Daniels), a girl Tracy likes but because of Charger, gets mixed up in simple mistaken identity subplot involving dancing. Lots of awkwardness follows.

The comedy is really broad and sometimes surprisingly lowbrow. Not to spoil too much, but one bit of Charger’s daring-do centers on a lot of flatulence. Tracy’s brother is well over-the-top and a little hard to take, but otherwise, the rest are fun and appropriately silly. After all, they’re being seen through animal eyes. And it’s really about those animals, and the youngsters should enjoy the handsome Charger and gets a few good laughs out of Bridgette’s hamster (voiced very well by Fred Tatasciore), a fitness-obsessed little rodent with muscles on the brain. Not to mention a couple of sandpipers (Jessalyn Gilsig, Casey Campbell) who have a few sharp comments on the proceedings.

Rescue Dogs won’t be for everyone, but there’s no denying the charitable efforts of the producers of the movie, who have made the project much more than the film. There’s no lack of VOD, low budget children’s movies, and Rescue Dogs, with it’s talking animals, will certainly find a lasting home among them. Harmless fun for little tykes and animal lovers.

Rescue Dogs (2016): Review

Movie title: Rescue Dogs (2016)

Director(s): M.J. Anderson, Haik Katsikian

Actor(s): Courtney Daniels, Eddie Alba, Liz Beebe

Genre: Comedy, Children's

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