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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Robert Stevenson
Cast:
Dean Jones, Tim Conway, Suzanne Pleshette, Keenan Wynn, Jo Anne Worley, Dick Van Patten, Shane Sinutko, Vic Tayback
Writing Credits:
Felix Salten (novel), Don Tait

Tagline:
A real shaggy dog story. The only candidate with a LAW DEGREE and a PEDIGREE!

Synopsis:
When teenager Wilby Daniels became a part-time canine in The Shaggy Dog, he didn't realize that this condition would come back and "hound" him again in his adult years. In this side-splitting sequel, Wilby's all grown up now, with a wife and son. Unfortunately, he's still subject to a furry transformation every time the inscription on an ancient scarab ring is read aloud ... not a comforting prospect when you've bounded into the public eye as a candidate for District Attorney!

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 3/7/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Actors Jo Anne Worley, Dick Van Patten and Tim Conway
• “Putting On the Dog” Featurette
• “The Good, the Bad and the Funny” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Shaggy D.A.: The Canine Candidate Edition (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 22, 2006)

Some sequels take longer to hit the screen than others. In the category of “really long gap” comes 1976’s The Shaggy DA. It offered a sequel to 1959’s The Shaggy Dog, which meant 17 years between the first film and the second one! I’ve seen longer spreads – 25 years passed between The Hustler and The Color of Money - but such a long gap remains unusual.

In another odd choice, DA included none of the cast members from the original, though it reprised some characters. As Wilby Daniels, Dean Jones takes over from Tommy Kirk. Now an attorney with a family of his own, crooks Freddie (Richard Bakalyan) and Dip (Warren Berlinger) steal everything from their house. Wilby blames corrupt district attorney “Honest” John Slade (Keenan Wynn) for his sleazy policies and decides to run against him.

Complications ensue when Freddie and Dip steal a rare ring once owned by the Borgia family. This is the same object that transformed the teen Wilby into a canine back in the Fifties, and they sell it to ice cream man Tim (Tim Conway). When he reads the inscription, Wilby again turns into a pooch – he now changes places with Tim’s sheepdog Elwood.

The rest of the film follows complications associated with Wilby’s unpredictable transformations. He never knows when someone will read the inscription again, and they usually do so at the most inconvenient moments. Matters turn even worse when Slade discovers Wilby’s secret and tries to use it against him.

To watch DA is to take a class in 1970s Disney Live-Action 101. Actors like Jones, Conway, Jo Anne Worley and Dick Van Patten were serious regulars among the studio’s flicks back then, and the movie follows the Disney MO for the era. DA includes a heavy emphasis on slapstick and wackiness that it combines with a good cast to make for a watchable piece of work.

Comparisons with Shaggy Dog are inevitable. I’m probably in the minority here, but I prefer DA to the original. The cast deserves most of the credit for that. With the primary exception of Fred MacMurray, most of the Dog performers couldn’t act, whereas DA includes a strong roster of talent. Jones offers a nice deadpan, dry turn on Wilby, and Conway makes the most of his goofy ice cream man character; he turns lots of throwaway moments into laughs. All the others milk their one-dimensional roles for chuckles that lesser performers would have missed.

While absurd, at least the plot of DA fits its plot better than was the case with Dog. That one tacked on a spy story that came out of nowhere and seemed like a waste of time. At least the action and intrigue of DA better fit its plot, as the developments with Slade make sense within the film’s overall arc.

DA does falter more than occasionally, though. It resorts to quite a few tired gags and even sticks us with a pie fight at one point. I wouldn’t call this a terribly creative and original movie.

Nonetheless, The Shaggy DA stands as a reasonably amusing piece of kid-oriented fluff. The little ones will enjoy the silly antics, while adults will be happy to see so many fine comedic actors in one place. Heck, any movie with so many cute dogs can’t be bad, can it?


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

The Shaggy DA appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As a whole, DA offered a rather unimpressive visual experience.

For the most part, the picture appeared to be reasonably sharp and distinct. However, quite a few examples of softness interfered with the presentation. These didn’t dominate the film, but they occurred much more frequently than I would expect. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no significant problems, but I did notice some light edge enhancement at times.

Print flaws were a more substantial issue. I saw periodic instances of speckles, nicks, streaks, grit and general debris. These never became excessive but they created more than a few distractions.

Colors appeared generally bland. Skin tones displayed a moderately pinkish tint, and the movie also looked somewhat faded and flat. At times, the hues looked reasonably accurate, but much of the time they seemed to be lackluster. Black levels appeared to be acceptably deep and rich, and shadows were fairly concise and visible. This transfer offered enough positives to merit a “C+”.

Also relatively decent was the monaural soundtrack of The Shaggy DA. Speech usually sounded acceptably distinct, and intelligibility wasn’t a concern. However, the dialogue displayed some signs of edginess. Music seemed to be reasonably clear, as did effects, but both elements suffered due to very restricted dynamics. There was little range to the audio, which meant the entire package sounded flat and thin. This wasn’t an unlistenable affair, but it seemed lackluster.

A few extras round out the DVD. We launch with an audio commentary from actors Jo Anne Worley, Dick Van Patten and Tim Conway. Each sits separately for their own running, screen-specific tracks; this piece edits all three commentaries together into one fluid program.

That roster of talent sounds appealing, but the end result is only sporadically interesting. Van Patten has the least to say, as he does little more than tell us the names of various actors. Worley chats about shooting the pie fight scene, her outfits, her interest in animal rights, and general thoughts about working at Disney. Conway offers the most substance, as he goes over production details like stunts, working with animals, and general filmmaking hassles. He also provides some dry humor along the way.

Those elements are the best, as Conway helps make the commentary amusing. Unfortunately, there’s just not a lot of worthwhile content here. Only a smattering of useful notes appear, and a lot of dead air occurs. The commentary has its moments but it doesn’t consistently entertain or inform.

We also find two featurettes. Putting On the Dog runs six minutes, 40 seconds and includes notes from makeup artist Robert Schiffer. He details all the methods used to turn Dean Jones into a dog. We find many good shots of the various elements and stages in this tight and informative program.

The Good, the Bad and the Funny fills nine minutes, 30 seconds with comments from Conway, Van Patten, They provide some notes about their characters, working with animals, dealing with the pie fight, thoughts about director Robert Stevenson and the other actors, and various anecdotes. Van Patten is much more informative here, and Conway tosses out more funny remarks. This is a fairly interesting and entertaining piece.

The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for The Little Mermaid, Cars, Chicken Little, and Airbuddies. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with trailers for The Wild, The Chronicles of Narnia and Brother Bear 2.

Maybe I liked The Shaggy DA simply due to nostalgia. I was nine when it came out, and I remember seeing it – and liking it – as a kid. 30 years later, I can see the movie’s many flaws, but I also can appreciate the many solid actors present and enjoy their work. The performers almost single-handedly make the movie entertaining. The DVD presents mediocre picture and audio, and we get some decent extras, though nothing special appears. This isn’t a great disc, but it’s a fair release for a fun movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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