Everyone loves a good dog movie. This list of favorites is in no particular order. We’ve surely overlooked some “canine celluloid” gems, but here are a few dog movies that made us laugh, cry and be glad that dogs are such an important part of life.
RIN TIN TIN – THE ORIGINAL CANINE SUPERSTAR
We wouldn’t feel right starting off this list with anyone else. This amazing German Shepherd Dog rescued from a World War I battlefield became a silent film star and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame. Along with the earlier canine film star Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin was responsible for greatly increasing the popularity of German Shepherd Dogs as family pets. The immense profitability of his films made Warner Bros. studios a success and helped advance the career of Darryl F. Zanuck. In 1929, Rin Tin Tin may have received the most votes for the first Academy Award for Best Actor, but the Academy determined that a human should win.
BEST IN SHOW
This film is a bitingly funny satire of the Dog Show world. Being “dog show people” ourselves, we must confess… the characters are outrageous, but we’ve met some real life counterparts in our day. From the overly stressed out couple showing their Weimaraner, to the Standard Poodle owner (and her overly confident handler) – the movie deals with the subject of showing dogs in a fun, tongue in cheek manner that still manages to be respectful to it’s subjects. In the end, whether you like dog shows or not, you’ll find yourself rooting for favorite characters. But the real question remains… “WHERE’S BUSY BEE???”
MARLY AND ME
Warning… DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO CRY. A beautiful film about a family learning important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog. A must see for anyone who’s life has been enriched by the love of a family pet.
MY DOG SKIP
Another tear jerker that’s wonderfully done. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO CRY. A lonely bullied boy named Willie adopts a dog he names Skip (bought by his mother over his dad’s objections).The dog is Willie’s entry into a world of new and even stronger and closer friendships. Skip teaches him that the strongest and truest friendships are wonderful and precious – like life.
AS GOOD AS IT GETS
Watching Jack Nicholson’s Obsessive Compulsive character be forced out of his comfort zone while caring for his neighbor’s dog (after the neighbor is viciously attacked) is absolutely endearing. A must see for anyone who ever thought, “I could never have a dog” or was on the fence about getting a pet. This movie demonstrantes that even the most difficult people can have their souls transformed by an animal.
Benji, the lovable mixed breed mutt has gone on to star in a number of sequals and spinoffs, and ultimately has been portrayed by a number of dogs – but it’s the original Benji that stole our hearts (and the hearts of many children in the mid 1970’s). A lovable stray dog who lives in a small Texas town is loved by all the locals, befriends two school-age children – and when bad guys intervene it’s up to Benji to save the day!
An American Bulldog, Golden Retriever and Himilayan Cat escape from a California ranch to find their owners in San Francisco. Along the way they encounter death defying obstacles and danger. This is a great film or people who love to see dogs and cats bonding. Another tear jerker. Pass us the Kleenex!
Lady and The Tramp
Lady, a pampered cocker spaniel, and her scruffy stray-dog suitor Tramp top our list for canine romance. Lady’s comfortable life slips away once her owners have a baby. When she finds herself out on the street, she’s befriended by the streetwise Tramp and romance blossoms. Sidenote – this film also tops our list for “most romantic pasta dinner of all time”.
How did Lassie’s humans ever survive without her? At any given moment she was saving them from predicaments. This beautiful Collie deserves a place on this list for all her wonderful “good deeds”. Over the course of numerous films and a highly rated television program, her noble actions and unyielding loyalty have made her a canine superhero. Good girl! Now go save your family from a burning building!
Quick, get out more hankies. This tear jerker about a boy and a stray dog in post-Civil War Texas is not for the faint of heart, but it’s lessons about the unshakable bond between a child and their dog is universal. Like Bambi’s mom… many a child learned about death from watching “Old Yeller”. It handles the subject well, and also reminds us that our hearts can find a way to love again, after we’ve lost an animal that meant the world to us.
It’s a hard knock life for the red headed orphan and her scruffy compadre Sandy. A rags to riches tale that reminds us, no matter how bad life gets, “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow”. It also helps if the world’s richest billionaire intervenes.
The Back Up Plan
Ok… we admit this J-lo movie is not a celluloid masterpiece. We included it on our list though, because of the scene stealing Boston Terrier “Nuts”, who stole our hearts and helped raise awareness for handicapped animals. This is a great movie for anyone who’s had the privilege of sharing their life with an animal that has special needs. A “dog on wheels” may require some extra TLC, but we know firsthand (one of our staff members shared his life with a wheelchair riding dog) that the love we get in return is well worth it.
The plot holes are admittedly huge in this wacky animated classic about a struggling songwriter, his wife, their 2 dogs and 15 puppies (all living somehow in a tiny London flat). Along the way 86 more puppies are added to the mix – along with evil socialite Cruella De Vil – who’s questionable fashion sense and insatiable need for a coat made out of Dalmatians earns her the title of “Most Evil Disney Villain of All Time”.
A slobbering St. Bernard becomes the center of attention for a loving family. This series of great family films prove what we already knew – large dogs can be just as adorable and lovable as tiny lap dogs. In fact, many large dogs think they ARE lap dogs.
Far From Home
This wonderful story about a boy and his devoted dog stranded on on the British Columbia coast is impossible not to love. The bond the two share is heartwarming. The five hankie ending (we won’t give anything away) earns the film a place on this list.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
This drama based on the true story of a college professor’s bond with an abandoned dog is wonderful. The story is told by the man’s grandson, years later to a group of students giving oral presentations on their personal heroes. The boy has chosen to tell the story of his grandfather’s dog Hachi, who saw his grandfather off at the train station every morning and was there in the evening when his master returned from work. One evening his master didn’t return home, but Hachi continued to wait every evening, day after day, year after year. This story is a must for anyone who wants to be uplifted and have a good cry. The bond between a devoted dog and it’s master can unbelievably deep and unwavering.
The Shaggy Dog
Disney’s first live action comedy about a boy who suddenly becomes a “shaggy dog” is fun, funny and spawned a slew of goofy remakes.
A small-town Southern boy, must rescue a young beagle from abusive owner and recluse. In the process, the beagle wins over the hearts of the boys reluctant family. All is well until the original owner decides to try and take the beagle back.
The Truth About Cats And Dogs
True love comes to a radio talk show host who specializes in giving advice to pet owners. When a befuddled man calls her show with a bizarre problem (a dog on roller-skates) her expertise on pets – and matters of the heart – are put to the test.
Turner and Hooch
We love this film about a detective who must adopt the dog of a dead man to help him find the murderer. Not surprisingly the dog winds up winning over the man’s heart. Slobbery dogs with big goofy eyes will do that to a guy.
Because of Winn Dixie
Shoutout to Berger Picards! A mischievous little dog (played by a Picard) befriends a lonely girl in a new town and helps her make friends. Along the way she learns (through the help of her canine companion) that people aren’t always as they appear, and even the most misunderstood among us can be a potential new friend.