Sunday, April 7, 2013

Movie Review: The Shaggy Dog (1959)

Title: The Shaggy Dog (1959)
Author: Disney
Genre: Family, Fantasy
My Rating: **
Age Group: 6+
Official Rating: Not Rated (it's 1959) Note: I would rate it at G or even E (everyone)

My Summary:
Mr. Daniels is a former post office worker and has a thing against dogs. Unfortunately, his youngest son wants a dog very badly. So when the older son turns into a dog as a result of a Latin spell he finds on an old ring, the youngest son is thrilled but knows the father must never find out or his brother will be kicked out of the house.
Strangely, Wilby (the older son) is turned into the new neighbor's dog. This isn't really a bad thing, as the new neighbor is rich and has a beautiful daughter about Wilby's age and the dog actually belongs to her. It works out beautifully for Wilby, who is referred to as a "good boy" and can't seem to get a date, unlike his "friend" Buzz, who can't seem to stop getting into romantic dilemmas. But when Wilby overhears a secret conversation about the missile plant, he knows something must be done.
Who takes the word of a dog? Certainly not the police. Can Wilby and his younger brother Moochie (who is thrilled to have a dog for a brother) stop the crime before it's too late?

Word of Warning:
Overall this was a rather innocent movie and my entire family (kids' ages 18-1) watched it. Still, I will mention the negative elements.

  •  Wilby and Moochie set off a rocket in their basement, and it blows a hole in the roof of the house.
  • Wilby turns out to be a shape-shifter, able to be a dog or a human (though not at will). It's the result of a spell and has something to do with dark magic used in the middle ages. There is a brief discussion on this between a professor at a museum and Wilby.
  • Buzz is smooth with the girls, but not honest, and ends up with two dates for a dance but manages to make sure neither one knows until the very end (and the discovery is an accident). He does, however, get what's coming to him, and by the end of the movie neither girl will speak to him. All the scenes with Buzz and the girls are innocent and, compared to modern movies, the problem is almost nonexistent. It's nicely refreshing to see.
  • Buzz is also slick with his friends, borrowing money from Wilby and refusing to return it.
  • Mr. Daniels shoots at at least one dog (who happens to be Wilby).
  • As a dog, Wilby attacks more than one person, growling and tackling the "victim". Still, only one complains of being bitten, and his companion scoffs at this, saying he doesn't see anything (neither do we).
  • A car is stolen (by Wilby the dog) and a car chase follows.
  • Moochie, in an attempt to save Wilby the dog, tells the police he doesn't know what his father is talking about even after being the one to bring up the entire story in the first place.
  • Mr. Daniels, after being betrayed by Moochie, undergoing interrogation, and an appointment with a psychiatrist, angrily tells his son not to talk to him.
  • A hand gun is pulled on Wilby and he is tied up and locked in a room while the criminals escape.
My Thoughts:
While the list of warnings seems long, it was actually a very innocent movie and one has little to worry about when pulling this out for a family movie night.
The reason the movie didn't get three stars is because the ending left me feeling very dissatisfied. Sure, all the problems are worked out, but not in a satisfying way and it leaves the viewer feeling a little disappointed. Still, there were plenty of moments to laugh during the movie and the plot was pretty well done as well.
I would watch it again willingly and really enjoyed the humor and innocence and drama that were wrapped together very nicely.


Stacy C said...

I was traumatized by this movie when I was super young, so I've never been able to watch it again. :P I don't even know why it was scary...

Steve Finnell said...

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Maria Gianna said...

Steve Finnell,
On behalf of both Stacy C and myself, I want to thank you for your offer. We plan to stop by your blog and check it out.
Thank you!

Maria Gianna said...

Stacy C,
It might have been the whole idea of shape shifting and dark magic and spells. That could traumatiz even the boldest of souls :)