Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Movie Review of Life With Dog from Mill Creek Entertainment {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

We had the opportunity to review a new movie titled Life With Dog from Mill Creek Entertainment. I had read the description of the movie, and was intrigued, so I was pleased when I was chosen for this review. And it stated it was family approved by The Dove Foundation, so I thought it would be a nice movie to watch with the children during our movie time.

"Life With Dog" is a 106 minute movie about a man named Joe Bigler (played by Corbin Bernsen) who has lost his wife, under what he considers mysterious, and even sinister circumstances. The opening scene of the movie comes down from above, descending to the scene of the bike accident that killed Alice. You see the emergency vehicles encircling the intersection, and as you draw closer you see a bicycle in the middle. As you get closer you notice it is mangled and someone is being placed into an ambulance. The camera then focuses on a mangy looking dog sitting on the curb.

We then cut to Joe who is alone in his home. Except suddenly he is talking to his wife Alice (played by Marilu Henner). At first it is a bit confusing. Is this a flashback of a time when she is alive, or something else? It is soon made clear that he is imagining his wife is still with him, though he knows she is dead. Throughout the movie he will see her and she will say something, or they may even have conversations. It is clear he is having a hard time letting her go and has not been able to grieve, even though it has been months since the accident. He is depressed, and hangs out in his chair, which we find out when his daughter Zoe (played by Chelsey Crisp) questions him. Adding to the struggle and the conflict with his daughter is the fact that she is a Christian (as was his wife) and he has no faith, especially after what happened to Alice, and as we discover, to his son prior to the loss of his wife. Zoe is worried about her father, and isn't sure what to do to help him.  

He has become paranoid, and feels that the company that is building a complex next door is after his house. In fact, it is his belief that they killed his wife to get him to give up and move so they can have his property. And I have to admit, it is hard to know for sure during a good part of the movie whether this is true or not. Is he just paranoid, or is there some truth to these accusations?

However, he gets increasingly delusional and even violent. I admit, I wasn't ready for this, and had wished I hadn't let the children watch it with me the first time. This is because there were some scenes that stressed me out because I didn't know what the children were going to see. A good reminder that I really do need to watch movies first before letting them see them, even if they are "family approved." I'm not saying it isn't appropriate for the children. However, if I had known what was going to happen at times, I would have been more comfortable watching them see it, so I could reassure them that nothing major was going to happen. Especially with the scenes where Joe is holding a gun on people and threatening to shoot them, when he gets violent with a bank worker and assaults him, holding him against the wall and threatening to punch him. There are also creepy scenes where there is someone in a hood outside the house at night sneaking around. That sure added to the suspense, which I am not a huge fan of honestly.

There is a lot of deceitfulness on his part, and there were times when he mentions what he calls "the f bomb." No, the word is not used, but I didn't really appreciate the reference to it either. I also didn't appreciate the fact that he included the phrase "pain in the a**" on the posters he made to hang up to announce he found the dog. Though he did cross the a-word out, it was still clear that it was there, and this isn't a word I allow the children to use. 

Early in the movie this dog suddenly shows up and stares at him. He never really tries to get friendly, he is just there. The dog continues to come back, even though Joe tells him to go away. However, at some point Joe allows the dog to stay and they become sort of friends. There is never any real affection being shown, by either party, but you can tell the dog is a comfort to Joe. He gets so he doesn't want to get rid of "Dog" as he calls him, even though he knows the dog isn't really his to keep. We see this conflict through the "conversations" he has with Alice. It's like "Alice" is there as some sort of conscience at times, talking him out of things he shouldn't do, or making sure he does what he should do. 

I mentioned to the children when the movie was over, that I was disappointed that we don't really see any change in his faith. We see a man who is violent throughout the movie, who at the end finally seems to be willing to offer forgiveness as the mystery of her death is solved and he accepts that she is gone. However, I was hoping there would be a growth in his spiritual life, somehow being led to Christ, and that Christ would be helping him through these struggles, not a dog. Yes, Dog is there to give him comfort, and he does end up being more important in the mystery of his wife's death than we realize at first, but I really wanted to see this poor grieving man be able to turn to the Lord, as was the hope of his daughter and his wife.

Is "Life With Dog" a powerful movie? Yes, I would say it is. However, I would definitely not consider it family friendly, at least for children under age 13. I thought maybe my 12 year old was getting something out of it, but she really didn't like it at all. And my 11 year old only liked the fact that there was a cute dog in it, as did my 7 year old (because he is obsessed with dogs and puppies right now). However, I would say they thought the movie was kind of boring and any messages related to dealing with grief went over their heads.

Sadly, I have to admit we really weren't fond of this movie. There really isn't any action, except for the scenes where Joe is reacting with anger, which isn't the kind of action I want the children viewing.

You can find Mill Creek Entertainment on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

The DVD release of "Life With Dog" is available at Walmart stores now. It is also available on many websites to rent or purchase, such as Amazon.

Though this isn't a movie we really enjoyed, I'm sure there are plenty of families who do, so don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about "Life With Dog."

Life With Dog {Mill Creek Entertainment Reviews}

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