Good Boy

Liam Aiken, Matthew Broderick, Vanessa Redgrave and Molly Shannon. Written and Directed by John Hoffman.
Running Time: 87 mins
Rated: PG

An alien dog named Hubble (voiced by Broderick) travels to earth from the Dog Star Sirius to investigate rumours that dogs on earth have abandoned their mission to overthrow their human "masters" and have instead been domesticated as pets. Hubble is soon adopted by Owen Blake (Aiken, of Road to Perdition fame), a 12-year-old loner. Owen helps Hubble train a misfit band of neighbourhood dogs so that they can impress the Greater Dane (voiced by Redgrave), their leader from Sirius who comes to Earth to make the final decision about whether the dogs can remain or, having failed in their mission, must return from whence they came.

Wasn't it WC Fields who said, "Don't ever work with children or animals"? Director John Hoffman works with both and does it superbly.

Based on Zeke Richardson's best selling book Dogs from Outer Space, Good Boy is a highly enjoyable family film.

In a similar vein to Babe, the animatics are clever and Hoffman casts just the right voice to match each dog's persona. Vanessa Redgrave's Greater Dane is especially imperious.

Unlike Babe, however, Good Boy's small budget shows up in some amateurish blue-screen scenes and clumsy directing, especially toward the end of the film.

But making a film like this is harder than its looks. The dog handlers deserve an Oscar for Outstanding Canine Performance. And if child star Liam Aiken can continue to convincingly portray the range of emotions he depicts here, this kid has star written all over him.

A charmingly moving celebration of friendship and loyalty, Good Boy is a must-see for all the family.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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