Monday, November 7, 2011

The Shaggy D.A. (1976)

In a word: woof. This live-action Disney comedy is a sequel to the studio’s minor 1959 hit The Shaggy Dog, about a young boy who turns into a sheepdog thanks to a magic spell. In the sequel, the boy has grown up to become reputable attorney Wilby Daniels (Dean Jones). When his house is robbed in broad daylight, Wilby decides to run for district attorney because the current D.A. is soft on crime. Unfortunately, that old magic spell gets reactivated, so Wilby starts turning into a sheepdog at inopportune moments, like when he’s preparing to get interviewed on television. Meanwhile (there’s always a meanwhile), current D.A. John Slade (Keenan Wynn) conspires to eliminate our hero before the lycanthropic litigator  can discover that Slade is in bed with the Mob. Disney regular Jones is amiable and diligent, investing considerable energy to give insipid scenes bounce and spunk, but not even the most gifted comedian could make Don Tait’s hackneyed screenplay sing. Very small children might be amused by vignettes of Jones growing hair on his face and by scenes of the sheepdog galumphing about while speaking with Jones’ voice, but grown-up viewers will have a hard time sitting through this barrage of cartoonish slapstick, clunky effects, and labored plotting. Matters are not improved by Tim Conway’s supporting performance as a dim-witted ice cream man, because his bumbling-idiot routine gets tired very quickly. And for dog lovers, presumably one of the movie’s target audiences, it’s a drag to watch the scene of the hirsute hero getting herded into an animal shelter’s gas chamber before he stages a four-legged jailbreak, since puppy euthanasia ain’t exactly comedy gold. Twenty years after this sequel was released, Tim Allen starred in a CGI-heavy remake of the original film.

The Shaggy D.A.: LAME

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