Its central focus is on behavior by bereaved pet owners that some might consider extreme, even creepy. One couple, for example, is shown pushing their deceased beagle, now stuffed, around in a baby stroller as they take their living, dog for a walk. Yet filmmaker Amy Finkel avoids mockery of her subjects, navigating a respectful middle path between snarky superiority and uncritical acceptance. As one of the film’s interview subjects notes, the intense bond that many people feel with a pet isn’t crazy at all, but chemical. Studies have shown numerous health benefits of pet ownership, and the intense sense of loss that the people in the film people feel upon the death of a pet is not just physically real but perfectly normal.
Well, maybe some of the behaviors are a little eccentric.
Even if you don’t pause at the woman who had herself tattooed with a picture of a dead pet — with its cremation ashes mixed into the ink — or the guy who preserved his late, beloved cat’s last bowel movement in a zip-lock bag, you may flinch at Peter Onruang, who cloned his dead dog not once, but twice. Just the price for this procedure, which is only done in Korea and costs about $100,000, is enough to stop most people.
To the film’s credit, Finkel features a diverse range of voices, including a pet grief counselor, representatives of veterinary medical science and one of the proprietors of the Hollywood-based Museum of Death, where you can view Liberace’s cat and Jayne Mansfield’s Chihuahua, both stuffed. Sociologist Pepper Schwartz gets a lot of screen time, providing needed balance and context. -- M.O.
Unrated. Contains a brief obscenity. 80 minutes. Available through Amazon Instant, iTunes, Google Play, Playstation, Vudu, Xbox and You Tube on Demand.
ANDY MADE A FRIEND
Even with its absurd premise, there’s nothing revolutionary about the silly short “Andy Made a Friend.” Andy (Ash Lendzion) has serious bladder control issues, which has made dating uncomfortable. When she (frequently) arrives at a restaurant sporting a wet spot on the front of her skirt, her suitors are understandably dismayed. But she realizes she isn’t alone in this cruel world when she meets Kate (Heather Morris), who responds to moments of excitement by slipping into a deep, snoring sleep.
What’s interesting about “Andy Made a Friend” is how you watch it — not on demand or in a theater but on IndieReign.com. The movie is one of the staff picks on the Web site, where visitors can buy and rent movies for a payment that goes directly to the filmmakers. And that has to be better than giving your hard-earned cash to some media conglomerate. After watching a movie (there are various genres, not to mention features and shorts ), users can rate the films, Yelp-style, providing guidance to those of us looking for a gem.
“Andy Made a Friend” falls under the “most popular” category (with 60 ratings, it averages a perfect five stars), which begs the question: How reliable are these ratings? The comedy is hardly a perfect film, but it serves up some laughs. The actresses have a nice rapport, and Morris (who some will recognize as Brittany from “Glee”) does especially good work, managing to make narcolepsy look utterly adorable. “Andy” is a bagatelle, but you could do worse things with 11 minutes of your time. And you could do much, much worse with the $3 rental fee — hello, Twinkies! — which could help director Scott Lendzion make his next movie. -- S.M.
Unrated. Contains bathroom humor. 11 minutes. Available on IndieReign.com.
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