Sunday, April 01, 2018

Great Family Film

When an orphaned dog and a fatherless schoolboy make eye contact on a busy street, both realize they were meant for each other. This remarkable early scene sets the tone for Benji, Brandon Camp’s charming remake of his father’s (Joe Camp) popular 1974 film.

The casting of these two main characters, Benji and Carter, plays a key role in the success of this 2018 Netflix movie. Benji (the dog’s real name) is scraggly but adorable and boasts extremely expressive eyes. No wonder this cute canine captivates us right away!  And, as Carter, Gabriel Bateman almost matches Benji in the eyes department. Plus, Bateman makes Carter believable right from the beginning because of the clever way he tries to make Benji follow him home as well as the caring way he treats his darling little sister, Frankie (Darby Camp).

Of course, Benji wants to find where Carter and Frankie live! He follows Carter’s Hansel and Gretel strategy as closely as he can despite the many   obstacles in his way. Undaunted, Benji arrives at his destination. Yay!

But, not so fast, folks. The children live with their widowed mom (Kiele Sanchez), who works hard as an emergency medical worker. She refuses to let the children keep Benji. I know what you’re thinking. Poor kids – and poor Benji.               

What can he do? He’s just a dog.
But Benji’s smart – not in a fog.

He loves two kids and needs a home.
No longer will he have to roam.

So as we watch this fun movie,
we hope good things come to Benji.

We hate to see him come to harm,
for Benji’s filled with lots of charm.

The kids he loves are also great.
When villains come, we fear their fate.

How will Benji help save the day?
You know that’s something I can’t say.

But dogs and kids can’t be ignored.
See this film? Well, you won’t be bored.

The not-so-smart villains are played seriously by Angus Sampson (Winchester) and Will Rothhaar (Division 19). They come across just scary enough for youngsters but not frightening enough to give the kids bad dreams. However, these robbers have a ferocious Rottweiler that might be a problem for toddler viewers.        

I must conclude with congratulations to Benji. Too bad there’s no Oscar for Best Animal Performance. Benji would win hands – er paws – down. 

(Released by Neflix; not rated by MPAA.)

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