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Movie Review

The Shaggy Dog

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some mild rude humor

Reviewed by: Patty Moliterno

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Kids
Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
March 10, 2006 (wide)
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Featuring: Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Danny Glover, Craig Kilborn, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: Brian Robbins (“The Perfect Score” / “Varsity Blues” / “Hard Ball”)
Producer: Tim Allen, David Hoberman, Gabriel Beristain
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures

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The movie opens as a helicopter flies over a Tibetan village and a sheepdog mediates with a group of Buddhist monks. This is no ordinary sheepdog, but a 300 year old genetic mutant who may be able to unlock the secrets of a long life. After “Shaggy” is kidnapped, he is locked in a lab for research.

The next scene takes us to LA, into the world of Deputy District Attorney Dave Douglas played by Tim Allen. Dave is a nice guy who is totally unaware of what is going on with his wife and kids. He has become so caught up in his job that he has forgotten about his family. His wife, Rebecca (Kristin Davis), is skeptical of anything he says, his son Josh (Spencer Breslin) doesn’t really talk to him, and his daughter Carly (Zena Grey) is just downright disrespectful.

Dave is working on a big trial, one that may help him get the job as District Attorney. He is prosecuting his daughter’s teacher, an animal rights activist who is accused of setting a lab on fire. Carly, an animal rights activist herself, is upset with her father because of his involvement in the prosecution of her teacher. Dr. Kozak (Robert Downey Jr.) plays a scientist at Grace-Strickland who is trying to find the fountain of youth gene and believes Shaggy is the key. Carly and her boyfriend break into The Grace-Strickland Lab and steal “Shaggy.” Dave ends up being bitten by Shaggy which results in his transformation into a dog.

Throughout the rest of the movie, Dave changes between human and dog, and as a dog we, the viewer, can he everything he says. While he is a dog, he learns more about himself and his family then when he is human. His sense of smell, taste, sight, and hearing are heightened as is his awareness of his surroundings. He begins to understand his family and comes to realize he has forgotten the important things in life.

Because of this transformation, Dave tells his wife he loves her more often. He encourages his son, Josh, to follow his passion for music, and he approves of Carly standing up for what she believes in.

The scene that bothered me the most was when Carly is arguing with her dad about his role in prosecuting her teacher. She has a t-shirt on supporting animal rights. As she turns to leave, the back of her t-shirt has a picture of her dad on it with a big red circle with a slash through it. She also attempts to sneak out to get a tattoo and this is thwarted by dog Dave.

While there were few objectionable moments in this movie, there are subtle references and crude humor that I will mention. Because this movie is about dogs, there are the usual references to sniffing butts, dogs peeing on bushes, etc. In one scene human Dave is peeing at a urinal along with other men and he lifts his leg. The dogs at the park all sniff dog Dave’s butt, and a dog in an elevator repeatedly sniffs human Dave as the dog handler asks “You don’t have anything illegal up there, do you?”

In one scene, dog Dave asks his wife, “Are you in heat?” In another scene a comment is made about a man turning into a dog and the reply is “They all do.”

There is very little in the way of sexual content, however, when Dave transforms back to a human after being a dog, he is in his birthday suit. This movie never show anything below the waist but Dave peeks into and blanket wrapped around him and is happy that all of him is back to normal. At the end of the movie, Dave kisses his wife on the courthouse steps and is nude. In another scene, Carly and her boyfriend are in her bedroom sitting on the bed ready to kiss before Dave as a dog interrupts.

Human Dave chases a cat and knocks over an elderly lady with a walker with such force it throws her into a tree. He also destroys a table at a restaurant and causes an accident on the street. There are several scenes where a super charged cattle prod is used.

While some people might object to the opening scene of Buddhist monks praying before a shrine and later Dave learns to change from a dog into a person by meditating, this could be a teachable moment. Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6:5-15, pray to the Father. Extending life and living forever are mentioned and desired so much that people will do all sorts of things to accomplish this including steal and kill. As Christians we know that our life here is only temporary, and we will live forever in heaven.

This movie preaches the importance of family—family comes first. It is another of Disney’s feel good movies about the father beginning to understand his family and becoming the Dad. So many people identify with this type of movie because while moms seem to inherently understand family and relationships, many times it takes Dad a little longer to understand.

This is a movie the whole family can see. While my 3 year old son appeared bored at times, mainly because he didn’t understand the entire storyline, my 12 year old daughter summed up this movie in one line, “It wasn’t the best movie I have ever seen, and it wasn’t the worst.”

Violence: Minor / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor

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Viewer Comments
Positive—My daughter (10) and I went alone to the theatre because my boys (5, 7) said “Shaggy Dog” looked to boring in the commercials. I thought so, too, but thought it might be nice to enjoy an evening alone with my little girl. Quick take: Harmless “B” movie with a family message. Details: Overused message of busy dad who never takes time out for kids or wife until a strange event transforms him into another species, allowing him to witness the effect of his absence on the family. Think “Jack Frost” with Michael Keaton, and you have “Shaggy Dog” with Tim Allen. An older Disney version of the Shaggy Dog exists, but I like this new one better for one main reason: The old version depicts wizardry through a ring as being the force that transforms a teenager into a dog.

In the new version, the change happens through a dog bite and the subsequent transfer of the doggie cells. Things I liked: Tim Allen lapping his coffee, chasing the belt on his bathrobe, chasing sticks and catching a frisbee in his mouth. Things I didn’t like: Seeing Tim Allen almost naked several times. Mutated animals (half frog, half bulldog, other combos). One men’s room scene—do the kids really need to see this? We don’t need to see men standing at the stalls (even though no flesh is shown). Still, the things I didn’t like were brief. Throughout the movie, I heard kids laughing in the theater and I found it amusing enough to not be bored.

My overall view again is that this movie is harmless, light, but with a few brief moments I could have done without.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
DMH, age 38
Positive—Our family saw the movie and there were some great laugh out loud moments. Great insights about family dynamics and the need to be honest in a family and for parents to work at being good listeners. We really enjoyed the show!
My Ratings: Good / 4
Cindy Wilkins, age 52
Positive—Great movie for the whole family without foul language or adult humor.
My Ratings: Good / 3
John Talley, age 42
Positive—I thought that this was a really fun movie and appropriate for the entire family. Tim Allen is the perfect fit for this part. The movie has an appropriate message about the importance of family. Yes, the daughter is disrespectful to her father, but this is only at first and later realizes that she was wrong. As the film goes along, the main character realizes that his job first and foremost is being a good husband and father, and in most films today, that is a rare message to find.
My Ratings: Good / 4
Jonathan Moss, age 34
Positive—I saw this movie today with a friend and our twelve year old girls. We all thought this movie was hilarious. If you enjoyed Tim Allen in Santa Clause, you will appreciate his humor again in this film. I did not like the crude dog gestures and comments detailed in your review, but they did not spoil the fun. This movie was “good medicine” and I totally recommend it for all ages.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Roxanne Suggs, age 44
Positive—I took my grandchildren, ages 11 and 8-½ to see this film, and was not expecting to enjoy it, as most reviewers gave it a “C” rating. However, I found myself getting involved in the plot and rooting for the “good guys.” There were also several parts where I laughed out loud. While the film obviously is not actively pro-Christian, it does show a family with both parents together, who love each other and their children, even though the father has become so involved in his work that he is not really aware of what is happening in their lives. The children have come to expect his apparent lack of interest, and, although they’re not smart-mouthed, don’t show him the respect that an actively involved father would normally receive. Without going into the plot, all of their views change as he sees himself through their eyes, and their attitudes change, as well. There is one scene in which the daughter thinks that her parents are getting a divorce, and the fear of that happening comes through as she bitterly explains it to her younger brother.

The acting is very well done, and Robert Downey Jr., as the evil and power-mad scientist mutating animals in the hopes of finding the “fountain of youth” gene, is superb. The special effects are great; I loved the cobra with the furry tail. The 8-½-year-old thought it was okay… pretty funny… and the 11-year-old chortled all the way through, pronouncing it 'the best, the funniest, movie ever'.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Cathy Chancellor, age 62
Positive—A very refreshing movie. This is one the whole family can enjoy. Hollywood actors are realizing they are missing a large audience with not producing family friendly movies. Cudos to Tim Allen for being involved in a light entertaining comedy. Obviously some scenes were unbelievable, but we go to movies to be entertained and see things that may not be realistic. I think kids and adults alike will enjoy this movie. Go see it and support the PG industry.
My Ratings: Good / 3
Scott Woodhams, age 33
Positive—Let me start with saying that I took my 7 year old daughter to see this movie, and I would do that again. There were a couple spots where she was scared, but they passed, and we were able to quickly comfort her. The main focus of the movie is dad becoming more involved with his children as his focus changes since becoming a dog. It’s all very cute. What I haven’t seen mentioned is the mother’s role. While mom is home every night to have dinner with the kids, she is not to be nominated for mother of the year. She does not know about the boy’s desires. She does not have time for the son’s p/t conference. She doesn’t know what’s happening between Carly and her boyfriend in her room. I suppose this is average for many families these days, but it is not the ideal family situation I would want to show my children.
My Ratings: Average / 3
Jean Snyder, age 38
Positive—Thought this was a great movie with nothing offensive in it. No bad language, no inappropriate behavior. Tim Allen did a hilarious job of depicting dog behavior. This movie is appropriate for all ages and entertaining for adults. As a Children’s Ministry Director, I would show this movie at my church.
My Ratings: Good / 5
Joe, age 57
Positive—I loved this film so much I went and watched it a second time. The second time was kind of boring. But it is most definitely worth watching, a lovely family movie. Every character was loveable and sweet, barely any objectionable content. My 43-year-old mum, my 14-year-old sister, 13-year-old female cousin, and 10-year old sister loved it. Laughs not at the expense of silly humour, but classic, actually funny scenarios. See “The Shaggy Dog”!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Maria-Antoinette, age 19
Neutral—Shaggy Dog was a somewhat good movie. It is a good movie for families to see. However, what I didn’t like was the fact that for a remake it was not good, or accurate to the original. (I have seen the old one. I know I am only 20 years old, however my family likes old films.) They should have stayed a little closer to the orginal. It was totally off the orginal plot. It was not very funny either. I think this was morally a good movie. Suprising for movies nowadays.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 2
Sarah, age 20
Comments from young people
Positive—The movie was incredibly funny. I did not expect to laugh so much but I am glad I did end up doing so. I really did not see anything offensive at all and I thought it taught great family values. It had great special effects with quite some interesting critters. It was a great family movie that I will definitely buy when it comes out on DVD. I give it two paws up!
My Ratings: Good / 5
Ileana Ortiz, age 13
Neutral—…I didn’t laugh at any of the parts I knew I was supposed to, but I didn’t groan out loud either. I survived it and kids in the theater (averaging 6ish) seemed to think it was hilarious. I guess the main point is this is totally not my kind of movie, and not even a great movie for people who like this sort of film, but it wasn’t horrible. The acting was really good, and I didn’t find it the least offensive. Personally, I recommend waiting to rent it on DVD, though.
My Ratings: Good / 3
Hannah, age 15
Positive—Good movie… it was funny, and cute. Only objectionable scene was the urinal, but even that wasn’t bad. Cleanest film this year; fun for the whole family!
My Ratings: Good / 4
Christa Rachel, age 15
Positive—This movie was good, but not really good. It had a great story line, good acting, and very entertaining. It’s a wonderful movie for any ages to go see. This is the kind of movie where I say I don’t need to buy a DVD. First of all, a couple of parts might get boring for older kids. Secondly, there were one or two curse words and somebody saying God’s name in vain. The third and last thing is, bathroom humor. They kept on showing a dog peeing in the yard, some people said a few things about stuff like that, and when the man is acting like a dog but isn’t turned into a dog yet, it shows him using the bathroom and doing it the way dogs do it. Other than that, it was good.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Carolyn, age 12
Negative—…just warning you now, this is an extremely animal rights movie. The bad guys are portrayed as not caring whether 'the little bunny rabbits are having makeup tested on them.' Honestly, this movie was painful to sit through. Between all of the bathroom humour, and the out-and-out “join PETA” attitude, I feel that this movie is really, really, not worth anyone’s time. I suggest, if you really want to see this kind of movie, to rent the old, black and white version. It is funny, wholesome, and a definite Disney classic. But, that’s just my opinion.
My Ratings: Average / 2
Leah, age 14
Neutral—I went to see this movie at the theater and came out thinking, “Man, we could have gone to something better,” It isn’t that this movie is bad, it’s just not very funny or interesting. A little mild language, barely any violence, but a few threats, and no sexual content make it a good kids’ movie though. The only bad part is when Tim Allen wakes up after being a dog, he is fully naked. Overall? Not bad or objectionable, but not worth it. Watch something better.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3½
Shelby, age 11
Positive—I think “The Shaggy Dog” is a funny, cute film, and you should buy the moive. It made me have a better liking for dogs.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Emily, age 10