Life With Dog (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Joe Bigler wants to shut the world out after his wife died a tragic death. However, his daughter won’t leave him alone, the bank wants him to pay his mortgage, and a big company is threatening to turn his neighborhood into a housing development, which prompts them to constantly offer to buy his house. Nonetheless, when a stray dog takes up residence with Joe, his life begins to take a different trajectory. Will he finally be able to make peace with his past and move on with his life?

Production Quality (2 points)

As is the typical custom of Corbin Bernsen and his team, Life With Dog sports a respectable production, including good video and audio qualities along with professional usage of sets, locations, and props. There are really no concerns to note save for the randomly poor lighting and the inconsistent application of editing. Also, the soundtrack is a bit off since it sometimes doesn’t fit the moods of scenes, but as can be seen in the remainder of the film, much of the oddness seems purposeful.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Life With Dog is a capstone of Corbin Bernsen’s erratic and unusual Christian entertainment career because it’s the ultimate encapsulation of everything he’s ever done. Not only does this film boast the typically odd elements he inserts into movies, but it carries an inexplicably unusual tone that can’t be easily quantified. Some example of this intangible bizzareness are evidenced by some actually interesting scenes that appear to make fun of cliched film tropes, some subtle asides that range from eyebrow-raising to borderline inappropriate, and a tendency for the dialogue to frustratingly meander among some actually pertinent topics that need to be discussed, some complex philosophical concepts that are difficult to grasp, and a constant itching feeling that the narrative is hiding some deep secret that’s never to be revealed. Besides this, there are logical inconsistencies in the writing, such as the fact that the main character is seemingly able to do whatever he wants with little to no consequences for his sometimes questionable actions and the fact that there are too many coincidences that allow the plot to exist. Though there are many half-hearted attempts (we suppose) to do something meaningful in the story, like provide an accessible character exploration, nothing specifically significant materializes and is instead left as an unfinished, off-the-wall idea. The climax scene is probably the best example of the entire film in a nutshell because it pretends to keep building to something real but never gets there and only leaves the viewer with something that’s both vaguely significant and head-scratchingly odd, as if the storyline was purposely written to dangle hidden things in front of the audience without actually revealing their true natures. In the end, though there is some potential in this chaos, it’s not enough to keep this movie above water.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Much like other Home Theater films, the acting of Life With Dog is fine without many noticeable errors. Though there are some overdone emotions are certain moments, the cast members’ line deliveries are consistently on point. Also, each individual appears to assume their roles well. Thus, this rounds out a slightly below average effort.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, Bernsen’s career is marked with wasted potential (Christian Mingle, In-Lawfully Yours, 25 Hill, to name a few), and it’s unclear whether or not he ever intends to change. It seems like he’s always striving to make the next great iconic Christian film but consistently falls short due to intangible oddness. The worst part is that he clearly has the connections and the resources to do better than he is, yet he usually comes up short as he settles for second best. Perhaps, in future projects, he will finally unleash his full skill set and collaborate with others who can make up for his shortcomings.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Footprints [2011] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When David Hyler loses everything, he almost gives up on life—that is, until he meets Cadie the German Shepherd.  Cadie changes his outlook on life and shows him that God has a plan for all of His creatures.  Not only does Cadie protect David and his family, but she also heals the lives of others with her presence.  Even though Cadie was abused and left for dead, her second chance on life makes a difference everywhere she goes.

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Although this production had something going for it, it doesn’t go quite enough to be dynamic.  Errors like long black and white flashbacks and very poor and distant audio quality hold it back from being what it could have been.  There are also too many background noises, along with a cheesy soundtrack.  However, other elements are fine, including video quality and camera work, except for the odd use of zooms throughout.  Sets, locations, and props are appropriate and realistic.  Editing has some issues, however, including some odd cuts and transitions.  On the whole, this production ends up being average, but it really should have been better.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Though this is a nice, touching true story, this plot really doesn’t have the substance necessary to make us interested in its contents or sympathetic to the characters therein.  Character development is stunted by extended and heavy-handed narration.  Dialogue isn’t substantial enough, even though there are some interesting attempts to develop characters through flashbacks.  However, there isn’t really much conflict to contend with here, and the storyline is too focused on being all about the dog.  There is also a laughable and forced persecution subtext that can hardly be taken seriously.  In the end, this plot suffers for lack of meaningful content.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Much like the production, while this cast had a lot going for it, they can’t seem to close the deal.  They begin with forceful emotions and line delivery, as well as some unnatural acting and sequences of juvenile arguing.  Although there is some improvement throughout, it’s not enough to bring this section above average, which tends to be the story of this film.

Conclusion

True story films almost always mean well, but too much of the time, they get lost in translation.  It’s great to portray real life stories in movies, but this isn’t the way to make an impact.  In order for movies like this one to be dynamic, they need flawless production and acting, along with deep characters and a complex storyline.  Otherwise, like Footprints, they fall by the wayside and are easily forgotten.

 

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points