Thursday, May 07, 2009

I Think I Was Barking Up The Wrong Tree

In the land of the cheap, you find that not everything is all dandy like candy. That screwdriver set you bought for $1 appears to be made of something softer than lead but not nearly as valuable. The generic can of baked beans had a pretty picture but they taste like they were soaked in kerosene. The off-brand dandruff shampoo holds true on its promise to rid you of dandruff; what they don't tell you is that it makes your hair tend to fall out.

Just because something is cheap does not mean that it is defective or even bad. Still, you have to approach things in a realistic fashion and accept that "cheap" also indicates you aren't going to get prime product. That brings us to the object of today's review. Mill Creek Entertainment has long been a favorite of mine as they release movies in bulk at pocket-change prices. They never promise Ingmar Bergman quality for Pauly Shore bargain dump rates. I know this when I pick up anything from their catalog and I accept all responsibility for what I get.

On a whim, I picked up Rescue Adventures Collection from Mill Creek. Five movies for five bucks. I figured it was time to give the slashers and monsters a break and try something a little different. The few people who know me seem to think I have something against anything that is not horror or fantasy. Not true. I just tend to find most genres are not likely to have the howlingly bad films the horror genre often produces. But thankfully I seem to have a nose that leads me to crap in whatever packaging it is wrapped.

I chose Poco as my first film to watch. Yes, I know they have Ann Archer in all her hotness in Night Of The Wolf, but I wanted to visit the slums first.

Poco is also known as Poco...Little Dog Lost. Personally, I think that gives away too much of the plot. Okay, that IS the plot. Little dog gets lost. Little girl misses dog. Little dog wanders through scenic locations. Viewers over the age of 6 lose interest.

I actually made it through this one without any real problems. Benji movies have me ready to doze or run away by the second cute thing the critter does. Little Poco doesn't do cute things. He does stupid things. Things like snarling at people who are trying to save the little girl who loves him, or running further into the desert when someone tries to be nice to him, or hides from a police man (setting up a distrust of law enforcement officers in the youngsters viewing this film). These are things Benji would NEVER do. Truly, Poco is a dog of the people.
You have to give a sweet family film a nod of respect when it starts with a car crash in the desert that jacks up everyone in the vehicle except the little dog. Slap the kids with a dose of traumatic reality from the onset and they'll hope for any level of warm fuzziness thereafter to assure them the world is NOT out to engulf them in pain.

Ah, if only Poco was that kind. Bad enough the mom and daughter land in the hospital and the car is totalled, but then not-to-bright Poco chases after the ambulance and then avoids anyone who tries to help him for the next 15 minutes. That's about 24 hours in dog time, which is enough time for our little "hero" to realize desert heat, blazing sun and a small dog with long, thick, unmanagable fur are things that do not go together well.
Next bad lesson from this movie: It is okay to pimp yourself to get what you need. There is a movie out there called Mooch Goes To Hollywood. They should have called this Mooch Hangs Out In The Desert. The dog plays hurt and near death to play on the sympathies of people, especially one lonely old guy who runs a gas station. He takes their kindness, he takes their food, he takes their water, and then he takes a hike. The second time he stiffs the old gas station guy, I couldn't shake from my mind the old saying: "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, love is true. If it does not, hunt it down and kill it." Now THAT would have been one rip-snorting film; an old geezer and a shaggy little dog trying to outwit and kill the other in Yosemite.

I'm sure the intent was to show love triumphs over all, including heat stroke, burned and cracked pads on the paws and playing on the sympathies of kind-hearted folk. Instead, you get a movie that makes you wonder if PETA shouldn't be notified, but only after you stake the manipulative little canine out for the coyotes and buzzards to have at. I won't ruin the ending for you because you know how this kind of tripe ends anyway. It ain't Old Yeller. But I do have to let you know that a chimp has a fine time towards the end of the film and the reaction shots the chimp gets are almost worth sitting through this bit of fluff.

In the end, Poco is worth watching if you like dopey movies (and I do) or if you have kids who love animals (and I don't...have kids, that is) or if you are in a full body cast and someone sticks this in your DVD player without your consent. Is it worth the five bucks for the Mill Creek set? Well, it's worth a dollar.