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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there are some mild naughty words in this movie ("screwed up"), a couple of mild double entendres, and some potty jokes. The dogs are exposed to laughing gas and get a little tipsy. Characters face a little mild peril and some tense situations, but everything turns out fine. One of the movie's strengths is its understated, even casual, portrayal of a diverse community, including a nice friendship between an African-American girl and a white boy.
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What's the story?
In GOOD BOY, Owen (Liam Atkins) is the only child of loving but preoccupied parents (Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon). He has been working hard walking dogs all summer long in order to earn the right to get a dog of his own. He picks a dog from the pound and names him Hubble. But Hubble turns out to be an inspector from the Dog Star who has been sent to earth to see how well the dogs are doing in establishing dominion over the planet. If not, all the dogs on the planet will have to go back to the Dog Star for retraining. The dogs try to persuade Hubble that they do control humans ("You don't see us picking up their poop!"). When that doesn't work, they try to figure out a way to fake it so that when the ruler of the Dog Star arrives, she will let them stay. Meanwhile, Owen needs to find a way to deal with some bullies and to make friends with a dog-loving girl named Connie (Brittany Moldowan).
Is it any good?
Good Boy is a not-so-good movie, but it's not so bad, either. It's a watered-down canine version of ET. It is not particularly imaginative and it goes on too long, dragging through the last half hour. But it has a cute kid and some even cuter dogs. The children at the screening I attended laughed and "awwwed" and applauded, and I found myself smiling a couple of times, too. That makes it a mild little entertainment suitable for a second-grader's birthday party outing.
Atkins has a nice screen presence and a terrific smile. Shannon and Nealon are wasted in under-written roles. The script saves its best moments for the dogs, and top-notch stars lend their distinctive voices to the dog characters. Highlights include Matthew Broderick as Hubble, Vanessa Redgrave as the ruler of the Dog Star, along with Cheech Marin, Carl Reiner, Delta Burke, and Donald Faison.
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