See Spot Run (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/05/2001

3 stars out of 5
Running time: 95 mins

Frequently hilarious comedy that combines gross-out gags and family-friendly humour to winning effect.

David Arquette (Scream, Never Been Kissed) stars as Gordon, an immature mailman who patrols his route armed with squirt guns, catapaults and meatballs every day, in order to combat the psychotic dogs in his neighbourhood. He’s content just to do his job, hang out with his best friend Benny (Anthony Anderson from Me, Myself and Irene), accept the odd breakdance challenge and lust after his sexy neighbour Stephanie (Leslie Bibb).

However, the day he volunteers to look after Stephanie’s young son James (Angus T. Jones), is the same day that ‘Agent 11’ - a crime-fighting FBI Superdog who’s escaped the witness protection programme and is on the run from mobsters – seeks refuge in his truck. James falls instantly in love with Agent 11 and christens him ‘Spot’ and Gordon is reluctantly forced to look after the dog. Meanwhile, both the mobsters and Agent 11’s obsessed owner Agent Murdoch (Michael Clarke Duncan) are in hot pursuit!

See Spot Run is surprisingly good fun, with a healthy mixture of gross humour (the film contains perhaps the funniest dog turd sequence ever committed to celluloid – a scene that sounds awful, but will have you in tears of laughter despite yourself), surreal comic-book-type humour (Arquette occasionally gets electrocuted in ‘comedy’ fashion and there’s a bizarre scene in a pet store (‘Petcetera’) where he ends up bouncing around in bubble-wrap filled with helium), and touching moments – the relationship that builds up between Gordon, James and Agent 11 is extremely well-handled.

The acting is excellent. Arquette may not be to everyone’s taste but he’s a much more likeable screen presence than, say Adam Sandler, and he has a definite gift for physical comedy. Angus T. Jones is excellent as James and gives a natural performance entirely free from the mugging and wisecracks usually associated with precocious child performers (see The Mummy Returns, or rather, don’t).

Leslie Bibb, too, proves surprisingly game for slapstick humour, as she gets stranded on her business trip and undergoes a series of humiliating catastrophes on her way home – watch for the scene in which she hitches a ride with a petting zoo! There’s also great support from Anderson (who gets most of the best lines) and from Michael Clarke Duncan (from The Green Mile), who gets a lot of comic mileage from the contrast between his outwardly tough no-nonsense agent, and the love he has for ‘Agent 11’ (to the point where he can’t even see that his partner is interested in him).

Rounding out the cast are Paul Sorvino, Joe Viterelli and Steven Schirripa as the mobsters – typecast as usual, but still giving solid comic performances. Last but not least, there’s ‘Bob’, the Mastiff who plays Spot (though actually several dogs were used depending on the requirements of the scene). In a sly nod towards traditional ‘the main character must undergo some kind of transformation’-type character arcs, even the dog learns to "be a dog" in this movie – he’s even given a comedy flashback (another excellent gag).

Basically, there’s a lot to enjoy here, including some wonderful comic moments and a number of downright hilarious scenes – highlights include Gordon’s daily battles with the Bleeker Street dogs and a hilarious moment where he completely misinterprets the gratitude of two deaf women in the park after Agent 11 returns a stolen bag.

In short, this is well-worth seeing for the range of comic performances on display and the high number of gags-per-scene that it sustains. It’s undoubtedly stupid in places, but it’s winningly played by all concerned and should be a big hit with kids, teens and families alike. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 17/12/2017 10:01

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