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Thursday, August 27, 2015

GONE DOGGY GONE -- DVD Review by Porfle

This movie is just so pleasantly goofy in all the right ways that I just couldn't help but thoroughly enjoy it. Not too heavy on slapstick or farce, GONE DOGGY GONE (2014) is like a live-action cartoon for adults in which certain of their foibles are skewered in delightfully nutty ways.

Abby and Elliott Harmon are one of those boring yuppie couples who have absolutely no clue how out of it they are.  Their first scene together is one of the funniest, in which it sounds as though they're carrying on a totally nonsensical conversation with each other until we realize each is speaking to someone else via headset phones.  When they actually start talking to each other, they can't think of anything to say.

The only interest they seem to share with any enthusiasm is their tiny "Teacup Yorkie" dog, Laila, with whom both are abnormally obsessed.  The trouble is, the babysitter they've hired to take care of Laila--a nice but socially-awkward nerdgirl named Jill (Shaina Vorspan, REDEMPTION)--is equally devoted to the li'l nipper.  So much so, in fact, that one day she impulsively kidnaps the dog (her "BFF") and makes off with her in her car.

The Harmons frantically set off in pursuit, taking them on a life-changing odyssey that will bring them together by throwing them into some wildly bizarre situations--such as being forced to strip naked at gunpoint by robbers who abscond with $30,000 in ransom money--and turning GONE DOGGY GONE into a road picture.

Things get even more complicated when Dan (Jeff Sloniker), the inept private investigator they hire to tail Jill, falls in love with her and they end up having to tail him.  Sloniker plays Dan as a disgusting slob who hates working for his overbearing dad Stan (special guest star Richard Riehle of OFFICE SPACE), and they all end up at Jill's mom's house in New Mexico being menaced by a scary Mafia loan shark to whom Stan is deeply in debt.

Kasi Brown and Brandon Walter, who play Abby and Elliott, also do an utterly surehanded job writing, producing, and directing the film with an exquisite subtlety that gives even the most outlandish scenes a painfully deadpan quality.  Brown's frantic reactions to Laila's kidnapping and their subsequent indignities along the road are priceless, as is Walter's passively resigned response to it all.  Abby's friend Kat (Kate Connor), a wine-swilling cougar along for the ride, adds her own cynical eccentricities to the mix.

Vorspan is a delight as Jill--she's a well-meaning ditz who loves her beat-boxing boyfriend even when he dumps her right after sex, and can't believe she just got laid off from her temp job when people who didn't even make coffee or decorate cute mugs for everyone else got to stay. 

Jill's pitiful need for love, which is the reason she's so desperately attached to Laila, comes from feelings of rejection by her cold-shoulder mom Ruth (Marsha Waterbury). This, along with some genuinely moving moments as the emotionally stunted Harmons start to regain their humanity, gives GONE DOGGY GONE an actual heart which makes the comedy even better while never lapsing into bathos.

The DVD from Indican Pictures is in 1.78 widescreen and Dolby 2.0 sound, with English subtitles.  Extras consist of a making-of featurette, deleted scenes, bloopers, and trailers for this and other Indican releases.

GONE DOGGY GONE reminded me a bit of another upstart indy comedy about a dog, Bobcat Goldthwaite's exquisite SLEEPING DOGS LIE, with its ability to surprise us by being so much better than expected.  And like that film, this wonderful little romp is out-of-its-mind unhinged but pretends not to be, which just makes it even funnier. 

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