– by Cecily Knobler, Hollywood Reporter –
I know that lots of us love animals: cats, horses, cows. Some are even into rodents and sharks. But this post is completely for the dog lover and I know there are tons of us out there. Below are some movies that every dog-obsessed person should see. (And no, Cujo didn’t make the list. Sorry, Stephen King!)
Let’s get a little old school here and go back to 1974, when the original Benji came out in theaters. It was re-released a few years later and I caught it as four-year-old. It quickly became one of my favorite movies and still is to this day, but for full disclosure, I was predisposed by my parents (and an awesome lab mix) to love dogs. What I enjoyed most about the film is that while yes, there’s a silly plot wherein a dog has to save some children from meddling kidnappers, it’s really pretty simple and mostly takes place from Benji’s point of view. It’s quiet, it takes its time and the adorability factor is undeniable! Make sure to rent the original, as while the sequels are cute, they don’t hold a candle to the first film.
2. Must Love Dogs
For you romantic relationship seekers out there, this is a fun one. Not only are John Cusack and Diane Lane so sweet together in this romance, (based on a novel of the same name,) their love of canines is relatable to any and all dog lovers. (Trust me, if you’ve ever dated someone who doesn’t appreciate them, you know hard it is.) This movie is pretty cheesy and didn’t receive the best reviews from critics, but it’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday, especially if you love dogs! (PS. The sassy sister in nearly every film of this era is played by either Bonnie Hunt or Elizabeth Perkins. In this one, it’s the latter. Let’s get more original, Hollywood!)
3. Marley and Me
Another film based on a novel. But here are a couple of differences: 1) This movie is fantastic! It actually made my list of Best Films in 2008. 2) I have never in my life cried so hard during a film. I mean like, I actually wailed. At first I was embarrassed, but then I just went with it. Because if you don’t cry watching the life of a yellow Labrador puppy, you’re dead inside.
This movie, (starring Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson and the most precious, insane dog named Marley), just smacked me in the gut. And it’s not just that I too grew up with a yellow lab. It’s watching a couple grow and shrink and love and question each other, with the dog serving as a loving benchmark of time. If you have ever loved and lost a dog, have lots of tissues handy while you watch this.
I can’t believe we’ve come this far and I haven’t even mentioned my insane love for beagles. When Uno the Beagle took “Best in Show” at the Westminster Dog show (first ever for the breed), I actually cried tears of joy. (I’ve subsequently watched the video of it over 20 times online.) But it was nowhere near the tears I cried while watching Shiloh. A young boy from a southern town learns what real love is when he decides to help save a beagle from a terrible owner. In fact at one point, the boy says, “If you love something, you take care of it.” To this day, that line of dialogue runs through my head every time I look at my sweet dog. This movie totally holds up and really is something every puppy-lover should watch.
5. Best in Show
And speaking of Best in Show, this hilarious “mockumentary” from genius Christopher Guest is tied with Waiting for Guffman for my favorite Guest film. There are terriers and poodles and bloodhounds and so many other breeds vying for the big win. But with such a hilarious cast, including Christopher Guest regulars like Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge and so many more, you will laugh uproariously. It’s simply genius.
6. Bonus Pick: The Artist
This silent film, which deservingly won Best Picture in 2011, isn’t really about dogs. However, Uggie the Jack Russell Terrier, who played “Uggy” in the movie, absolutely steals the show. Uggie had an impressive acting resume before he sadly passed away in 2015. I loved The Artist anyway, but the dog pushed it into the “brilliant and adorable” category. I highly recommend it!