Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Pudsey: The Movie (2014) review

Last week we had the sadistic puppy Baxter, and now we have the infamous dancing dog that won Britain's Got Talent in 2012. Two completely different creatures, right? Or are they?

We begin the film seeing Pudsey bored on a black and white film set. It is not clear if he is an actor, as we find out pretty soon afterwards that he is a stray. Anyway, in his boredom he disrupts the scene by doing his famous "twirling around on his hind legs" dance, and subsequently trashes the set. It's not made clear if we are meant to see Pudsey as an anarchist against the tyranny of work, but we do see him waltz around the streets of London on the look out for sausages, encountering every English stereotype on the way.

(The soundtrack to this film deserves a special mention, as its Team America-esque singing narration to the beat of the most horrifying Euro-trash dance music is enough to make your ears bleed.)

As stray dogs are allowed to use public transport in this version of London, Pudsey boards a bus where he sees a girl getting bullied. She is too weird to be dating material, and the boys make fun of her for it. As they exit the bus, Pudsey pushes one the boys over in self-righteousness. The girl and her two younger brothers decide to keep Pudsey because of his heroism, but their mother has other plans. She takes Pudsey to a neighbour, and this strange little segment shows us one of those hateful individuals that see pets as fashion accessories, and her two died pink poodles beg to be saved from their misery.

Pudsey escapes however, leaving the poodles to their fate, jumping in the back of the moving truck that just so happens to belong to the weird girl he met earlier.

They find themselves at their new ramshackle house in the country, where the landlord just so happens to hate dogs. The following hour features a maniacal business man, Pudsey's kidnapping, and a pig who thinks he's a chicken (he tries to incubate his own shit! Ha!). It is the standard nonsensical garbage that they believe children are into. Although Pudsey is undoubtedly well trained, we are led to believe that a dancing dog is the cure to all lives woes, and that he can save a village from being bulldozed to build a mega shopping mall. The story and moral are tired an dull ("Be true to yourself!"). The whole thing just leaves Pudsey's talents in the dust. Wouldn't a dancing dog make more sense in a film about, I don't know, a circus, or even StreetDance?

Pudsey's inner dialogue (voiced by David Walliams) does provide us with some interesting hints into a dogs psyche. Although he has a massive sausage preoccupation, Pudsey, like Baxter, sees humans as his slaves, there to satisfy his whim. Whereas Baxter believes that a weak human shouldn't exist, Pudsey puts it upon himself to become a somewhat father figure in this fatherless household. He decides to take the kids "under his paw", and tries to show the girl that her eccentric fashion sense was fine, and tries to make her mute brother speak. While Baxter and Pudsey would unlikely be friends, these films offer us an interesting paradox to our conventional opinions of our favourite pets. While we could never truly hear a dogs voice, it is maybe worth considering that dogs can have low opinions of us too, that maybe even they can resent us. Although Pudsey does learn to call the cottage home and the children family, it is only after he has sorted them out, only after he has taken charge.

Aside from the interesting look into dog psychology, Pudsey: The Movie is a tacky and cheap foray into cinema from Simon Cowell. The film notoriously bombed at the box office, so hopefully this would be a lesson into not doing quick and nasty, exploitative films. No real attempt was made to make the most of Pudsey's talent, and it is a shame to think that he as his trainer Ashleigh may be condemned to bad breakfast TV segments. Everybody in this film looks slightly embarrassed to be in it. Treat yourself to one of the other brilliant kids films, like The Lego Movie or How to Train Your Dragon 2, instead of this cynical mess.



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