by Greg Muskewitz
Sometimes dealing with movies is not a question of endurance, but of the will to carry on. There was no point in prolonging the pain during “See Spot Run”; I was ready to walk out after 15-minutes, but thought that was not giving it a fair chance. So I played fair and got scorned anyway. But come the 55-minute mark, I saw there was going to be no change and that it would only go downhill from there, I took a powder and didn’t return.There were several movies last year that I tried almost to the very end to stick out, or did against better judgment (“Dude, Where’s My Car?,” “Time Regained,” “Bedazzled,” “Quills,” et al.) and there have already been too many for comfort this year (“The House of Mirth,” “Snatch,” “Head Over Heels,” “Valentine,” “Faithless,” “3000 Miles to Graceland,” and this week’s other release, “The Mexican.”) so I was done playing around; “See Spot Run” crossed the line.
"See me run! --'Spot' marks my first walk-out of 2001."
What portion of the movie I did see, focused on a bumbling dolt named Gordon (David Arquette), a U.S. Postal courier very much intimidated by dogs. He’s got a crush on a young woman, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb) who lives in the same apartments, and when her babysitter cancels last moment, Gordon is quick to volunteer to look after her young son James (Angus Jones). Left with no other options (she had a business meeting or something to that effect in another state), she leaves James with Gordon fully knowing how irresponsible Gordon is. But heck, it’s only for one night, right? That’s when the mature and unpredictable plot starts grinding (ha! they only wish!) and somehow the following morning, she calls to let him know there is a delay for “who knows” how long.
One the other side of this dual-colored spectrum (the offered colors being light gray and lighter gray), we have a super-trooper indestructible FBI dog, Agent 11. When he breaks up a deal going down with local Mafiosi (Paul Sorvino) and bites off one of his testicles, the gumba is out for revenge, so he orders for his men to “put a whack on the dog.” To avoid losing his most valuable asset –and partner, the human element of the team, Murdoch (Michael Clarke Duncan) sends him on a witness protection program, but since the mob has people working on the inside, they try to muck it up. However, the dog manages to escape and find his way to Gordon and James: one who’s freaked out of dogs, and one who would love to have a dog, but his mother won’t let him.
When I left, it was nearly an hour into the movie, and we had had but maybe three or four scenes with the dog. For a movie entitled “See Spot Run,” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to see the dog actually doing something in the movie. But “See Spot Run” is more a potty-humor, bad example-fueling, inane kids’ movie. So when I may feel particularly out of touch with a certain childrens’ movie, I try to gauge it by either my 6 or 7-year-old sisters. I’ll judge it by both the level of interest one or the other shows in the movie, and by how appropriate it is for them. Since I didn’t bother to take them to this, I can’t say how interested they would have been (though I could tell by the gaggles of children that were in the audience, that it was very minimal), but I do know that it was totally inappropriate.
Some movies aimed at kids try to include the adult audience that will be most likely attending, in some of the humor. It’s understandable, and it’s a good trait. Movies like “Muppets from Space” or “The Grinch” make sure not to lean too much towards one specific way for obvious reasons. Sometimes, they are slanted a little more one way than the other (and then you get sillier kids’ movies like “102 Dalmatians” or those far more entertaining for adults like “Titan A.E.”). But “See Spot Run” wasn’t going in either of those directions –instead it was aimed at complete and total asininity. Obviously, with a movie like this, we are throwing out all forms of logic, and that is expected. However, to throw out our reasoning, intuition, and certain standards is not part of the deal. There is no way I can recommend this movie to any child; not only is it irresponsible, but it’s immature. It is not so much that they are going to learn something really bad (from what I say) and try to mimic it, but what it is emitting is insulting.
This is a low point in the careers of all included in this mess. David Arquette, who does stupid and goofy humor quite contently, including his 1-800-C-A-L-L-A-T-T commercials, at least looks like he is into it and having fun. There is no sign of content, or fun whatsoever on Arquette’s face here. It looks as if he is being asked to perform a task he doesn’t want to be associated with. And if he did willingly accept this project, maybe that’s why Courtney Cox wanted to disassociate her name from his in “3000 Miles to Graceland,” which is not that many miles away from this. The same stands for Michael Clarke Duncan and Paul Sorvino. Unless Arquette and Duncan are trying to get out of their contracts with Warner Bros., I doubt even the paychecks were motivation enough for this. Leslie Bibb, although I’m sure she returned near the end, and in that, that she and Arquette ended up together, but all that was not worth sticking around for. I’d much rather enjoy watching her on TV’s “Popular” than travail through this. The kid, Angus Jones, was no good. He had no expressions, no feeling, no palpability, and lacked what one would call natural talent. He has no presence in front of the camera, and too, didn’t look as if he wanted to be there. The same stands for the lame dog, who, and hour into the movie, did absolutely nothing.
The story was pathetically written five different people! How does it take five whole people to screw something up beyond recognition so badly like the way they did here?! Seriously, how do five grown men sit around a computer and come up with something such as this product as their best effort? Either they are complete and utterly idiotic morons, or they have something wrong inside their heads, and that is not meant as an insult to the mentally disabled! Other than that, these dim-witted latent kindergartners are trying far too hard to come up with something they think will entertain the family or kids. The task should not come off seeming so hard. Writing screenplays like “Requiem for a Dream,” “Lost Highway,” “American Beauty,” “eXistenZ,” etc., should be challenging –not something that could be done better by a 10-year-old if you asked them for help. The six “collaborators” who were involved with this should be rejected from the Writers’ Guild, and director John Whitesell, who doesn’t know how to approach anything in moderation –only in fat, unprocessed hunks—should similarly be banned from the Directors’ Guild.
What a year 2001 is shaping up to be, I tell ya, what a year!Final Verdict: F.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4917&reviewer=172
originally posted: 03/03/01 06:04:01