Cool Dog (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Cool Dog (2011)

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The following will contain spoilers for the movie Cool Dog. If you think you might want to experience the coolness of this dog for yourself, you have been warned. Also, for those that are reading this and have not seen Cool Dog (i.e. most of you), I swear I am not making any of this up.

But before getting into this dog and his coolness I want you to picture this movie in your head. Right now, just stop and imagine what a movie called Cool Dog would consist of. Have you done it? Good. That movie you just pictured is probably better than this movie. No matter how many wacky and/or extreme activities that normally dogs don't do that the dog you pictured in your head was doing, this movie probably has you beat by a good dozen activities.

For all intents and purposes, Cool Dog follows the formal structure of a film, but that's about it. The plot is about as straight forward as it gets: Boy (named Jimmy) loves dog (named Rainy). Boy is forced to move from small town to big city where he can't bring dog. This is because landlord hates dogs (*gasp*) and also hates kids (*doublegasp*). Dog manages to find way to city and reunites with boy and together they foil the landlord who is selling animals illegally or something. I’m leaving a lot out but nothing you couldn’t guess. This is all pretty standard kid's movie fare (even the animal selling part really). Calling this movie bad would be entirely inaccurate, though, as it’s kind of in a category of it’s own.

It's hard to articulate exactly what is off, but I will try. It goes without saying that this, being a movie about a cool dog, features said dog driving many vehicles. Obviously. To get to New York, Rainy drives, at different times, a train and a boat. Later in the movie he steals a car and drives it around while everyone applauds, though this part later turns out to be a dream that Jimmy is having. What is off about this:

  • Rainy driving a boat and a train: Perfectly reasonable things.
  • Rainy driving a car: Wacky thing that would only happen in a dream!

Nothing happened in the dream sequence that topped anything that had already happened in the movie. There's no reason for it to be a dream sequence at all, it's just thrown in there for no apparent reason. The whole script is like this; a series of things happening with no logic or structure.

Also, while I’m on the topic of dogs operating vehicles, it is mentioned that Rainy can ride a skateboard, but it's never shown. It’s like they thought that it wouldn’t be a legit cool dog movie if the dog didn’t skateboard, but they couldn’t train the dog to skateboard nor could they accomplish it with their awful effects (which are used to make Rainy play the piano and at one point-- I’m not making this up-- to make Rainy cry). So they figured it would be enough to just mention the dog could skateboard and leave it at that. I probably find that funnier than I should.

Another example of the films oddness is the opening, in which Rainy walks down the street of a small town. He does his standard routine of things a non-cool dog wouldn't do, including ringing the town bell (making multiple people realize that their clocks were off), delivering mail for a mailman (who for some reason is unwilling to walk the two feet from the curb to the door) and winking at a hat wearing poodle while bad 50's music plays. This is how most of the film plays out, in montages of Rainy just sorta doing “Cool Dog” stuff.

There are two scenes where he has to escape something (a zoo where his owners chose to leave him behind for some reason and a dog catcher) and these sequences are nothing more than “threat walks in one direction and then something bad happens to them”. It’s like they’re on a conveyer where occasionally they pause and then a cool dog drops something on them.

This is limited to chase sequences though. Just about every scene with Rainy is just a montage of Rainy doing “cool” things. There’s a scene where he jumps a train and meets some hobos. He then plays checkers, plays the harmonica and the banjo and the scene wraps up with him driving the train. It’s just stuff that’s there for the sake of being there. It’s a movie that believes that showing dogs doing things that dogs shouldn’t be able to do is all that’s required of it. It’s a lolcat (dog?) in movie form. Still, what did I expect?

Going back to the opening, throughout it people come up to Rainy and pet him really enthusiastically, like he is the best dog in the whole wide world. When they are not petting him they are remarking to themselves and others about what an awesome dog Rainy is. This leads me to one of my favorite things about the movie: this is the closest I've seen to anything taking Homer Simpson's advice regarding Poochie.

Let me explain: in one episode of "The Simpsons," Homer is hired to voice a cartoon dog named Poochie. This character is not popular and Homer comes up with some ideas how to improve the character. One of his suggestions is that every time Poochie isn't on screen the other characters should ask "where's Poochie?" Now this movie doesn't actually do that but it comes close.

I swear whenever this movie doesn't consist of the dog doing something "cool", it consists of characters talking about how cool the dog is. Every background character in the entire movie only exists to talk about just how cool this dog is. If they aren't talking about how cool the dog is, then they're probably a villain. One of my favorite examples of this comes when an old woman  (whom Rainy had saved from a purse snatcher) brings Rainy to Jimmy's new apartment building (Jimmy had put the address in Rainy's collar so he can find him, which would be silly but I guess cool dogs can read). Outside there is a random child who magically muses that the owners of the building don't like dogs and, he adds, “Probably not even a dog as cool as this one”. Now, this child has not seen Rainy do anything cool but he just knows that he is a cool dog and he just has to say it.

It's like this movie is insecure about just how cool its dog actually is, so just in case the dog’s coolness isn’t apparent, all characters must remind the audience that the dog is cool at all times.

This goes doubly so for Jimmy. Oh god, how I hate Jimmy. He is the main character, so we have to spend a lot of time with him and 90% of his dialogue consists of talking about how awesome Rainy is, how much he loves Rainy, and how much he misses Rainy. He loves Rainy more than anyone else, including his parents. This is proven early in the movie when he is saying grace and thanks God for all those that he loves but especially Rainy. Come on kid. Your parents are sitting right there!

This might explain why his step mom (wouldn’t be a kid’s movie without a dead mom) seems to just have zero patience about the whole dog issue in the movie. It tries half-heartedly to make her a villain because she just doesn’t seem to care about the dog, but, really, if your stepchild openly talked about how much more he loved the dog than you, you’d grow some contempt too.

The step mother is probably the most reasonable character in the film. For example, all the way to New York, Jimmy is moping and whining about the dog. When they get to apartment they find it doesn’t have an elevator to which Jimmy says something to the effect, “Well looks like we’ll have to find a new apartment. Maybe one that allows dogs”. The step mother then snaps at him and tells him to just drop it because they aren’t giving up a free apartment for a dog. It’s pretty clear that we are not supposed approve of the stepmother’s tone here, but I couldn’t help but agree. It's a free apartment in New York!

Seriously, shut up about the damn dog, Jimmy. The step mom certainly doesn’t have a strong husband to back her up. The father just kind of sits there, not wanting to do anything that will disappoint his son. Hell, he doesn’t tell Jimmy that they’re moving until the week that it’s happening because of how hard it’ll be for him.

In general, I just liked the villains more than anyone else. Sure they’re just cartoon cut outs, but they are played so over the top, I couldn’t help but smile every time they were on screen. How can you not like a big fat woman with a thick Brooklyn accent who’s eating a big sloppy sandwich while telling her new tenants how much she hates children? Her husband is also played as the over the top as the meek, scrawny nerdy guy who does what his wife tells him. Sure it’s a horrible cliché but, in this movie, you take what you can get.

I also love how senseless their evil scheme is. They’re selling animals illegally, but the movie did not have the budget to actually get many exotic animals. I couldn’t help but laugh when a goat is let out of a cage and the villain yells how it’s worth thousands of dollars. Really, I don’t even understand how they’re selling animals in a shady way at all. Why are people willing to pay such top dollar for them?  Why are they doing this if they hate animals? What kind of child knows instantly that selling animals without the proper permits is illegal?

I know I’m probably expecting too much coherence out of a movie like this but sometimes it gets hard to ignore. Still, I’m trying not to nitpick to much. There are just much bigger things to talk about.

On that note, I cannot finish this review up without talking about the ending. It’s sort of incredible. So Jimmy gets kidnapped by the villains and Cool Dog leads the police to his rescue. The police arrive, save Jimmy, the villains try to get Jimmy to pretend like this is all a misunderstanding and then they are taken away. All pretty standard stuff. Then it is revealed that Rainy appears to be dead at the bottom of a long drop. This happened off screen. Last time we saw Rainy, he was attacking one of the villains. Now he is somehow dead. So they go to check on him and a paramedic confirms that Rainy is in fact dead. Jimmy then prays to God for Rainy to be okay and then asks his dad why God would take Rainy away. Then, Rainy magically comes back to life and catches the one villain that almost got away. Then he gets the key to the city.

Okay, let’s somehow ignore what a travesty of storytelling this is and focus on the important thing: Rainy is Jesus Christ.

This is a Christian film. It’s subtle about it with a grace here and a prayer there, but it's definitely present. The film is just more open about characters praying and talking about God than you would normally see in a children’s movie. Taking this into consideration, I will not sit idly by and pretend that the filmmakers had no idea what they were doing when they had it’s main character come back from the dead.

It all fits too. The movie opens on Mardi Gras and that night it is revealed that Rainy will have to be left behind. He is then left on his own where he travels the land performing miracles and is forced to overcome many trials. He gets caught up in trouble revolving around the faults of the humans around him and, in solving them, he dies and is resurrected. Throughout the movie characters can’t help but spreading the word about how cool this dog is and in the end he is granted a key that will let him go whereever he wants. It all works, man!

Or maybe not. I watched a movie called Cool Dog. What the hell do you want from me? Is this a good film? No. Is this and amusingly bad film? No. Is that dog cool?

Cool enough, I guess.

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Posted by Andrew

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  1. Wanna meet that cool dog.

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