Remake of the classic family flick is silly but not always funny.
"The Shaggy Dog" is billed as a remake of a well-known 1959 kid flick, but it actually has more in common with that movie's sequel, "The Shaggy D.A." If that distinction seems silly, well, that's appropriate: Silly is the order of the day for this movie, even if it comes at the expense of the humor.
The plot involves a man who periodically becomes a sheepdog. The best parts come when he's caught in the netherworld between human and canine: He looks like a man, but he has a very unusual approach to eating; we don't even want to talk about when he goes to the bathroom.
The original film, made during the golden age of Disney's family movies, was about a teenager who became a dog. The follow-up, made in 1976, reshaped the story to involve a lawyer who aspired to be a district attorney.
That's where we find the story as the remake starts. Dave Douglas (Tim Allen) is a hot-shot prosecutor who has been hand-picked by the outgoing district attorney (Danny Glover in a cameo) as his replacement. All he has to do is keep his nose clean until the election. But that nose is about to stick itself in some very unusual places.
Allen shines in the scenes in which he changes into a dog. The confusion he exudes will remind viewers of his similar conversion to St. Nick in "The Santa Clause," but there are worse things to be reminded of. To that point, a reference to his Buzz Lightyear character in "Toy Story" feels forced. And the fact that Dave is restoring a hot rod in his garage is really reaching a long way back to refer to Allen's TV series, "Home Improvement."
The movie loses much of its steam when Dave's conversion to a mutt is complete. Robert Downey Jr. adds some fun with an over-the-top mad doctor using animals for naughty research, but for the most part we're left with the sheepdog running around the screen while Allen narrates the pooch's thoughts. In the end, "The Shaggy Dog" has much more bark than bite.
The Shaggy Dog
**½ out of four stars
Jeff Strickler 612-673-7392