PATRICK. UK, 2018.  Starring Beattie Edmondson, Ed Skrien, Jennifer Saunders, Emilia Jones, Cherie Lunghi, Meera Syal, Gemma Jones, Peter Davison, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Atack, Bernard Cribben, Tom Bennett. Directed by Mandie Fletcher. 93 minutes. Rated PG (Mild coarse language).

Who would have thought that a well-bred British pug would be named Patrick! But he is.

Review recommendations are easy this time:

-          for dog lovers, of course.

-          For dog non-lovers, of course not (except with the caution that Patrick might prove himself somewhat engaging by the end).

At the opening of the film, a genteel old lady is multi-coddling Patrick, spoiling him rotten (as they say). By contrast, Sarah, and we soon learn she is the old lady’s granddaughter, experiences her partner leaving, collapses in a complete mess, overeating, oversleeping in compensation. She goes home for her grandmother’s funeral, arriving late, picked on by her mother and her high-achieving sister, and, when the will is read, she learns that her grandmother has left her Patrick as a bequest.

In fact, Sarah does not like Patrick all that much and definitely does not want to take him home. But, she does. Initially, there is mayhem, a literal cat-and-dog fight, mess in the house, and in her neighbour’s house, while Sarah goes on her first day on her new job at teaching English in high school, and Patrick eats, and eats, anything and everything. Will there be any bonding?

Sarah is played by Beattie Edmondson, daughter of comedian Adrian Edmondson of the Comic Strip – and her mother, who does appear in the film, is Jennifer Saunders. There are quite a lot of character actors in small roles, Cherie Lunghi and Peter Davison (a one-time Doctor Who), as her parents, Bernard Cribbins as an old widower, Gemma Jones as a neighbour with the dog, Meera Syal as the school principal, Adrian Scarborough as the initially prissy and over-critical teacher. And there are some younger players, romantic possibilities, including Ed Skrien as a vet and Tom Bennett as Ben, with whom she entangles, literally, while taking Patrick for runs in the park.

A lot of the action takes place in the school while Patrick is at home. Sarah has a recalcitrant class but she also brings a klaxon to bring them to attention and tells them the plot of Jane Eyre in rap style. There is a girl with problems, Emilia Jones, whom she helps. There is a sympathetic fellow-teacher, Emily Atack. That is where we find Jennifer Saunders, in the staff room, offering a different range of cakes every day!

The plot also involves a fund-raising run, Sarah absolutely reluctant, with the most gawky running style ever seen on screen, pressurised to do the run – and, eventually, getting their… just.

The very British film, British humour, obviously targeting dog-lovers of every age.

Disney                            Released November 8th

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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