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'Spot': Bad Dog

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 2, 2001


    'See Spot Run' David Arquette, left, and Angus T. Jones in "See Spot Run." (Warner Bros.)
The audience for "See Spot Run" isn't looking for thematic complexity. These kids are waiting for dog doo-doo jokes.

And that's exactly what they get, in this Warner Bros. movie about a mailman (David Arquette) who needs to grow up, a kid (6-year-old Angus T. Jones) who's growing up too fast and an FBI dog who has bypassed the joys of puppyhood.

Arquette – who plays the hapless Gordon – is the unfortunate victim, slipping, sliding and repeatedly falling into the icky stuff one unfortunate night. At this point, he's locked out of his house, wearing only boxers and a T-shirt. It gets worse. He loses the boxers, trying to scale a drain pipe into his upstairs window. And after he falls, boxer-less, to the ground, the lawn sprinklers suddenly come on. Which is right around the time two cops appear. . . .

Are we clear about the general texture of this movie? There's nothing particularly deft here. It's all cute 'n' crude formula: the childish guy who does the phone commercials, a kid who looks like the kid in "Jerry Maguire," a big dog with huge jowls. And lots of flatulence jokes. Not to mention a few off-color castration jokes for the adults, believe it or not.

For the sweet-natured Gordon, the trouble starts when he agrees to watch his neighbor's kid until the babysitter shows up. Naturally, the sitter never does. And by then, the kid's Mom (Leslie Bibb) has already gone for the weekend. Gordon (whose apartment "smells like a man," as he explains to the kid) is facing a full weekend of responsibility. But because he's sweet on Mom, he does his best.

And now the dog part. It seems that Canine Agent 11, an FBI drug sniffer who's the pride and joy of Agent Murdoch (Michael Clarke Duncan), has made an enemy of a mobster named Sonny (Paul Sorvino). Sonny, who didn't take warmly to a certain precious body part being nipped off, has ordered a contract on da dawg. Before Agent 11 can get shipped to Alaska as part of the canine witness protection program, Sonny's goons find him and give chase. But as the mobsters close in, Agent 11 escapes by leaping into Gordon's mail van.

The boy falls in love with this mysterious dog and begs to keep him. Gordon, for whom dogs are a daily, snarling occupational hazard, isn't thrilled but honors his request. And now they are three, with hitmen on the prowl, Mom still away and Gordon slipping in – you know.

Obviously, "See Spot Run" won't go down as one of the great kiddie dog movies. But it'll have to do for those children and adults who don't ask for much when it comes to movies – just a few guilty laughs, a predictable resolution and repeated close-ups of that dog jerking its head to one side, doing the cute thing.

"See Spot Run" (PG, 95 minutes) – Contains guns, castration references, flatulence jokes and other crude sight gags.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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