Magic of Lassie

All right, hold up on those no-one-cares- about-Lassie sentiments. It’s running a 92% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a critic I respect told me a couple of hours ago that he “bawled like a baby” when he saw it a few days ago.
Could this G-rated British programmer be made of the actual right stuff? You can’t blame me for presuming that this modest little film, opening 9.1 via the Samuel Goldywn Co., was just a run-of-the-mill family flick featuring auto-pilot paycheck performances by costars Peter O’Toole and Samantha Morton. Has anyone ever seen The Magic of Lassie (1978) with Jimmy Stewart? Stewart sang a song over the opening credits, and I haven’t forgotten that. It was horrible.
Please understand that HE is not preturnaturally cynical about dog movies, and that the two publicists at Rogers & Cowan who are handling the film for Goldwyn never even sent me a screening invitation (a man-about-town who goes to just about everything didn’t get an invitation either), and also that I tried to track them down a little while ago and they’re out and their voicemail isn’t working. I tried Goldwyn and they’re “out to lunch” also.
The only thing that gives me concern is a review by Onion critic Scott Tobias that says writer-director Charles Sturridge “doesn’t mess with the Lassie formula — he provides plenty of dog-porn shots of the collie bounding through scenery in slow motion.”
Every now and then a movie about a family and a lost dog can be okay, and if you can’t find a place in your heart for flicks of this sort then you shouldn’t be reviewing movies. You have to be emotionally receptive; you’ve got to leave your heart door unlocked in case the right movie comes knocking.
That said, I’m going to admit to something that perhaps I shouldn’t admit to. When I read the phrase “dog porn” I naturally…you know. And I think a lot of us would ike to see a Lassie movie in which Lassie’s brother Laddie develops a special relation- ship with Scarlett Johansson. She could play a rich Scotsman’s unfaithful wife who develops an extraordinary bond with Laddie, and it could be set, like Lassie, in the England and Scotland of the 1940s. I’m not suggesting a stupid dog-porn flick, for God’s sake. I’m thinking of a story that includes genuine tenderness and vulnerability and intimacy of a very special sort. We all know that animal eroticism is very big on the internet and is one of the last remaining taboos, and it’s just a matter of time before the right filmmaker approaches it with taste and discretion. I know it sounds like I’m kidding, but I’m not. Not entirely, I mean.
Nagisa Oshima‘s Max, Mon Amour, a monkey-relationship movie with Charlotte Rampling , broke the barrier back in ’86, Given this precedent, going canine 20 years later, especially in today’s mock-salacious environment, wouldn’t even be seen as nervy.

26 thoughts on “Magic of Lassie

  1. L.B. on said:

    Still on the meds, Jeffrey? Get out of the house for a bit. Have a walk or something.
    As for the movie, I had no idea this was coming out. But the posters in the other thread were so enthuiastic for it that it’s on my list now.

  2. Wow. Doesn’t Harry Knowles have infamous reviews, like when he cried at “Armageddon”?
    I think this is Jeff’s “review” like that. Memorable stuff.
    I agree, though. Sometimes it’s best to let these things sneak up on you. However, growing up in a household where my little sis played “Milo and Otis” all damn day sometimes, treacly animal movies make me wary.

  3. Leaving aside the last few paragraphs… I’d much rather take my kids to a Lassie movie than yet another wisecracking-animals computer animation movie.

  4. the bitch is back … Lassie that is … here is the reason the film is awesome despite the “auto-pilot paycheck performances” and some clumsy plot turns … Why does Lassie return after initially fleeing the Dinklage campground? Why does Lassie bring the strangers when they meet couple together? What bond does Lassie hold with the long hair dachshund or for that matter what psychic bond does Lassie use to comminicate with the Loch Ness Creature? … Lassie is a force of nature and like a force of nature changes everything in its path, equalizes rich and poor, restores the balance of life … woof

  5. This is like the third time in the past few months that Jeff has brought up animal porn in a semi-positive light. It’s really creeping my shit out.

  6. I can’t imagine anyone would show up here if it weren’t for the free associating riffs leading down film memmory lanes. Now, how bout how the hand’s doing?

  7. I like both Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Wells. I like what they stand for, and they’ve both done a lot of good for the world.
    But I don’t want Bill Clinton anywhere near my niece, and I don’t want Jeff Wells anywhere near my dog.

  8. Leaving aside the last few paragraphs… I’d much rather take my kids to a Lassie movie than yet another wisecracking-animals computer animation movie.

  9. I can’t imagine anyone would show up here if it weren’t for the free associating riffs leading down film memmory lanes. Now, how bout how the hand’s doing?

  10. Peter Dinklage as a travelling puppeteer?
    I’m so there.
    That said, after the whole “dog-porn” schpiel, does anyone else here suddenly have Stephen King “MISERY’S HOBBY” images flashing through their brainpan?

  11. Yow. So the new Lassie movie leads to something about inter-species erotica? I blame the internet.
    Our inner censor. Sure, he can be dangerous, but we dismiss him at our peril.
    On the other hand, anything with O’Toole and Morton in it has my attention.

  12. “Nagisa Oshima’s Max, Mon Amour, a monkey relationship movie with Charlotte Rampling , broke the barrier [....]”
    Charlotte Rampling? Wow, *there’s* a shocker. Is there *any* taboo Mrs. Zardoz wouldn’t break?!
    -L-

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