Man’s Best Friend: Man’s Best Friend (1993)
Obviously, I didn’t think the title of this series out properly. If I had, then I’d have considered the fact that one of the films likely to come out of the hat would be 1993 silly schlockfest Man’s Best Friend. As I look now at the title to this post, I can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed, as that repetition is so absurd as to be ridiculous. Still, worse things happen at sea, or in labs where mad scientists are injecting pooches with all sorts of other DNA to make Superpooch with an attitude problem.
This really is a very silly film.
Contains angry mutant Rottweilers and spoilers below.
Basically, it goes like this: Ally Sheedy plays Lori, crack journalist extraordinaire. She gets a tip about a lab run by Lance Henriksen’s Jarret where they are messing around playing god and screwing mother nature (because that always goes so well in films) to create some sort of super soldier dog. The dog in question, Max, is liberated by Lori and taken home. Once home, she realises that as he’s been kept in a lab for so long he’s probably dying for a smoke. Only kidding. Anyway, all jocularity aside, she starts to bond with the pooch, who weirdly starts falling in love with her. So, problems start to arise when she’s getting frisky with her boyfriend(no boob, sadly), and Max isn’t chuffed about this. She lets him in and he goes for poor old Perry (Fredric Lehne). Restrained by Lori, she starts to look more into what happened at that lab. You see it turns out the evil old Jarret was combining animal DNA (much like in Splice, except presumably he managed to restrain himself from shagging the dog) including panther and whatnot for no reason adaqeutly explained.
On the outside, however, Max wreaks all sorts of havoc including, in no particular order, climbing a tree to eat a cat, gross bodily harm on a mailman, hopping next door to shag the labrador, and scaring the poop out of a newspaper boy. This is, in all honesty, hugely entertaining stuff. There is a problem with Max, though. He’s madly in love with Lori, but psychotically hates everyone else in the world. While he was in the lab, he was restrained with medication, but now he’s off his meds and on the loose in the real world things can only end in tragedy. So, anyway, the cops are on to him, as is Jarret and Perry. However, Max has other special skills such as the ability to pee battery acid, which he puts to good use ruining Pezza’s good looks. Anyhoo, to cut a long story short, Lori kills him, and the film ends with a shot of next door neighbour’s dog’s brood which has one suspiciously familiar angry looking Tibetan Mastiff amongst the other Andrex puppies.
Man’s Best Friend is a phenomenally entertaining daft film. There’s just so much of it that’s flat-out hilarious, particularly involving Max’s antics in the outside world. In particular, the climbing the tree scene to eat a cat may be one of the funniest schlock scenes of the 90’s. Seriously, he grows claws, climbs up and then BANG, the pussy is fucked. The film even has the good grace to show Max swallowing what looks suspiciously like a toy cat whole. This scene is just sheer genius. I’m disgusted at myself that I hadn’t seen this before now, because any film with something as truly, truly dumb as Max climbing a tree to turn a cat into lunch should have been on my radar for a while.
The acting is OK. Lance does his thing (cash cheques) and Ali Sheedy tries to be all professional and whatnot. Fat transport cop from Die Hard 2 (Robert Costanza)turns up to perfect his shouting role, and the rest of the support is OK. The acting, however, pales in insignificance to the animal training on Max. A Tibetan Mastiff, with his hair cut short, he’s a big powerful looking beast and packs a fair amount of menace, but he is also a touch prone to the same problem the beast in Cujo had- he’s clearly having a great time. Nevertheless, despite tail wagging, he does look like an angry fucker when enraged and the scenes of his jealousy etc are really quite well handled.
The writing on the other hand, is amazingly stupid. Lance constantly witters on about Max having a psychotic break and so forth, but not a jot of sense can be dragged out of the script. For example, Lance spouts a lot of nonsense about Max being a great leap forward etc. in terms of home security, but I’m not sure that a mace-resistant battery acid pissing, medication dependent, ball of death such as Max is likely to supplant the humble Alsatian as the guard dog of choice. Lance gets, to be fair, lots of silly mad scientist chat such as this:
No, I do not mean a mutt, sir. Look around you. Each animal has a pacific desirable trait. Which is dedicated to their survival. If You took the D.N.A. from each, and genetically splice it into a breed of a dog. You would have a magnificent creature.
Which is almost completely incomprehensible. On that note, Fish have gills, but I haven’t seen him transplant them into the dog. So he’s clearly talking bollocks about survival traits. Incidentally, this is a cracking example of Jarv’s Third Rule of Cinema: The hero can never do any wrong despite suspect actions in the film. In this case, Lori releases a dangerous and psychotic killing machine from its pen with inevitably disastrous and totally avoidable consequences, yet still remains the hero, and we’re supposed to root for this obvious cretin.
As a slice of entertaining dumbhouse, I can’t fault Man’s Best Friend at all. I spent the morning on the sofa thoroughly enjoying Max’s psychotic rampage through suburbia. The whole premise, and the execution of it, is so immensely dim that you would have to have a heart of stone not to enjoy it. I suppose that they were trying to make a serious point about buggering around with animal testing, but I don’t really care about that in that in the slightest, and to be honest, it’s almost an afterthought in this film and not particularly well handled.
Overall, yup, this one’s a winner. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination an actively good film, because at the end of the day it features a dog that can climb trees and piss battery acid. However, it’s a cracking piece of dumbhouse and ludicrously funny. Yes, the acting is a bit blah, and the script is ridiculous, but the dog climbs a tree to eat a cat. I cannot emphasise this enough, and in light of this, Man’s Best Friend is a very good boy indeed.
Because I love you people and whatnot, here’s a downloadable mpeg of the insanely dumb scene in question. Check the kid’s face out as Max swallows Felix whole. Genius:
Until next time,