Who doesn’t love dog movies? Me, that’s who. OK, not all dog movies, but plenty are immediate thumbs down. “Does the dog die?” is usually my first question. Humans in crisis in one form or another? Yeah, I feel a range of emotions. But the dog? Whhhy?! I’m rarely in the mood for a hard, ugly and bitter cry. (Emphasis on the “ugly.”)
But enough about my high-gear anthropomorphism. What movies would dogs watch? Would their first question be “Does the human die?” “Is gratuitous treating involved?” “Does anyone get neutered?” “What about the cat?”
Here is just a smattering of the dogcentric movies that are both paws up and paws down.
1. Buddy Movie
American Bulldog Chance, Golden Retriever Shadow and worrywart cat Sassy weave a tale of ever-mounting anxiety for the humans who watch Homeward Bound, but our pets probably look at it as an exciting “We can do it!” good-time adventure shared among three friends.
2. Revenge Flick
Why can life be so pointlessly cruel? (Spoiler alert, and you will need this one.) Killing the dog given to him by his recently deceased wife? Dogs (and their humans!) watching everywhere want revenge. They want action. They want John Wick to get those suckers and make them pay for what they did to that pup. No prisoners.
3. All the Feels
Dogs would probably like A Dog’s Purpose, Marley & Me and that ilk to our Steel Magnolias, Beaches or My Girl. Unrelenting tearjerkers meant to purge the deepest of sorrows. The worst? Where the Red Fern Grows, where Redbone Coonhound siblings Old Dan and Little Ann don’t just die, one of them is mauled by a mountain lion and the other dies of something just as bad: a broken heart.
4. Animated Spills, Chills, Romance!
Unrequited love! Jealousy! Adventure! A gang of sewer-dwelling animals led by a psychotic rabbit! A sausage factory sequence! This movie has it all — and everyone lives! However, dogs who watch The Secret Life of Pets probably share many laughs and feel-good moments while offering up dog-audience comments about the truthfulness of pet life akin to Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Other dog-favorite animation flicks of course include One Hundred and One Dalmatians, where prima donna Cruella gets hers, Pongo and Perdita rescue their children and 84 other cuties and newly successful songwriter Roger buys a “Dalmatian plantation” in the country.
Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and a handful of comedy’s best, plus dogs?! Pass me the popcorn, stat! Best in Show is a crackup of palpable tension, mounting excitement and fierce competition as hundreds prepare to throw down in one of the greatest events of their lives: the Mayflower Dog Show. What ensues? Nonstop hilarity.
I Am Legend paints a horrific, heartwrenching picture:
Humans: “Oh no! Sam has been bitten by an infected zombie dog!”
Dogs: “Oh no! Neville is in danger! Sam will rescue him!”
Both: “Oh no! Sam was bitten and is succumbing to the zombie virus!”
What comes next is a heartbreaking scene that both dog and human wish they could unsee and forget. Cujo isn’t much better: Man’s best friend turns into his worst enemy. No one wants to see that, either. Ever.
7. Buddy Crime
With a usually goofball star like Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch, a dog would think he’s in for on-hisback-belly-exposed laughs aplenty, right? There’s plenty of that throughout, but then — bam! — this dog-sacrifices-self-for-human genre flick kicks man and dog in the feels. We don’t want a puppy that looks like Hooch! Well, we do, but we want Hooch, too! Dogs everywhere agree. Especially Dogues de Bordeaux.
8. Vintage Drama
Lassie Come Home, Old Yeller, White Fang and Call of the Wild are films for canine purists who love no-nonsense, classic tales of loyalty, the pull of the great outdoors, overcoming great obstacles and personal quests for identity. For serious dogs only. Like German Shepherds.
9. Science Fiction/Adventure
In Isle of Dogs, when all canines of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage dump island, a young boy sets off alone in a miniature prop plane and flies across the river in search of his dog, Spots. With the assistance of a pack of newly found mongrel friends voiced by a near-perfect cast, he begins an epic journey that (spoiler alert!) ends in the happiest way possible. It’s precious, minutely detailed and magnificently deadpan. The “Treatometer,” not to be confused with Rotten Tomatoes’ “Tomatometer,” gives it five stars!