Heading up the Cineplex escalators to view The Shaggy Dog, I overheard the following succinct movie synopsis exchanged between two preteen boys: "You know that guy who turns into Santa Claus? This time he turns into a dog." While such an analysis may not reflect kindly on the dramatic range of Tim Allen's oeuvre, it does suggest, pretty accurately, what you can expect from The Shaggy Dog—good-natured, sometimes silly family fun that will play especially well with the under-13 set.
The Shaggy Dog is not really a remake of the old Disney human-goes-to-the-dogs movies (1959's The Shaggy Dog and 1976's The Shaggy D.A) in that none of the original characters (except the sheepdog) appear here. Instead, the movie makes use of the earlier films' basic plot device (man turns involuntarily canine at the most inopportune moments) and hauls it into the New Millennium, adding plenty of computer generated effects, throwing in a politically correct storyline about the evils of animal experimentation, and making the humor a little ruder and cruder. Still, to ensure that mom and dad will shell out those New Millennium ticket prices for the whole clan, The Shaggy Dog offers a series of dog-eared clichés about the importance of putting family first. If you buy lots of popcorn and don't think too hard, it's all reasonably entertaining and sometimes genuinely funny.
Allen (The Santa Clause, Christmas with the Kranks, Home Improvement) plays Dave Douglas, an ambitious lawyer who is counting on his current case to launch his campaign for District Attorney. While he's busy prosecuting Justin Forrester, an animal rights activist (who is also his daughter's popular history teacher) for the alleged arson of a medical research facility, ...1