BENJI: OFF THE LEASH!
Release Date: August 20, 2004
Rating: PG for thematic elements and
some mild language
Runtime: 97 minutes
Distributor: Mulberry Square Releasing
Address Comments To:Mulberry Square Releasing
4751 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Phone: (323) 549-4397
The movie starts with a young man named Colby taking care of a dog and her pups. His father catches him and complains that he let their prized breeding dog get free to breed with a mutt. The father orders Colby to take the “purebred-looking” dogs back to the kennel while abandoning the adorable mutt puppy. Later that night, Colby rescues the mutt and installs her in his very elaborate fort guarded by his parrot.
Soon it becomes apparent that Colby’s father is running an illegal kennel to breed dogs for international sales. Two animal control buffoons are onto him, trying to expose him, while also trying to catch another mutt and the puppy that Colby saved. After many adventures, the puppy grows up to try to rescue his mother, the prize breeder, who has been overbred and is very sick. Will the mutt rescue the mother in time? Will the animal control people take care of the mother? Will the father get his comeuppance?
The good news in this movie is that there is a strong character arc for the boy, and the animal control people go from being buffoonish villains to being good guys. The music is terrific, and the filming is very well done with the animal action being superb, as in every Benji movie.
Regrettably, the movie wanders at points, losing some of its jeopardy and tension. Also, there is a slight socialist perspective toward government. The biggest negative, however, is the fact that the father is the villain. The latest research from Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago shows that children need their fathers both psychologically and biologically to grow up properly. Many movies such as FINDING NEMO are affirming the father. BENJI would be a slightly better movie if this were the step-father and not the father, and if there was a reconciliation at the end. Furthermore, the father as the villain has no character arc, and so the ending is slightly unsatisfying.
Even so, this is a good movie with a lot of good values, and these negative items can be explained to children. Therefore MOVIEGUIDE® gives a positive rating to BENJI: OFF THE LEASH!
There is a strong character arc for the boy and the animal control people. The negatives are that the movie wanders at points, and the fact that the father is the villain. Even so, this is a movie with a lot of good values, and the negative items can be explained to children. Therefore, MOVIEGUIDE® gives a positive rating to BENJI: OFF THE LEASH!