Before watching the movie:
The closer I look at this movie, the lower my expectations sink. Howie Mandel playing a dog-man, Christopher Lloyd playing his slimy brother… I was never clear on when Howie Mandel was a big deal. He had something going for him that let him make Bobby’s World (which I watched as a kid and enjoyed), then disappeared for a long time and resurfaced as the “remember him?” host of Deal or No Deal. Additionally, while I’ve seen Christopher Lloyd play villains before, I don’t expect to enjoy this particular kind of role on him.
Since I only heard about it through an automatically-generated recommendation, it must not be terribly memorable.
After watching the movie:
Twenty-eight years ago Henry Shand found a gold mine, but lost his younger son Bobo in the wilderness. He soon died in the search and split his fortune among his wife, his older son Reggie, and his younger son, with the stipulation that if Bobo was not found by his 30th birthday, the money would pass to Reggie. In the present day, Reggie has bet away his fortune and had to move back in with his mother, and is using Bobo’s inheritance as collateral on new bets, when to everyone’s surprise, naturalist Penny finds Bobo shortly before his 30th birthday, having been raised by a family of wolves. In order to get Bobo’s money, Reggie has Penny educate Bobo enough to sign over power of attorney, and if that doesn’t work, he’ll have Bobo committed.
While I would have liked to see a more gradual progression in Bobo’s regained humanity, I recognize that that’s a hard balance to write, and this movie isn’t about that so much as “a comedy about Howie Mandel raised by wolves”, I was a little disappointed to see that Bobo’s progress was basically “dog gets a haircut, becomes a child with English as a second language.” Meanwhile, I was concerned about Reggie’s sliminess, but he only comes off as anything close to vile in the beginning, where the writing lays it on really thickly (making nasty jokes about his wife’s alcoholism to her face), then drops that idea in favor of the “desperate man who sees Bobo as a means to an end”.
The pacing is slow and at times awkward. Penny presents Bobo to the Shands and then drops out of the story for five or ten minutes. She has no function in the plot for that length of time, but it was obvious she was a key character, and it’s a long time to be absent. They could have cut one of the many lengthy “laugh at the dogman” sequences to show her sitting at home or work preoccupied with thoughts of him. Later, there’s a ticking clock feeling when there isn’t any actual time constraint other than Reggie’s impatience, which needs an outside push to get anything to happen. Act 2 seems to have been stretched out substantially until enough time has been killed, and then suddenly the story moves again.
This film altogether has a distinct lack of, for lack of a better word, polish. It doesn’t even feel like a TV movie, let alone a theatrical release. That’s not to say that the technical ability demonstrated in the writing and production is sloppy, it’s just nothing special. It sets low goals for itself and barely accomplishes them.
I laughed a little, but mostly I wasn’t affected much at all. It held my interest just enough to say that it’s not boring, but only just.
Watch this movie: If you’re a Howie Mandel or Christopher Lloyd completist.
Don’t watch this movie: as Tarzan of the Wolves.