Monday, September 22, 2008


A while back, we embarked on seeing a trio of films that I refer to as “snow dog” movies. Kids seem to love this genre, with themes of adventure, bravery, and loyalty played out by good guys, bad guys, and beautiful dogs, unfolding amidst a gorgeous natural setting which threatens to turn hostile at any given moment. Parents shouldn’t mind these films, either; the cinematography is usually breathtaking, and there’s a teeny bit of an edge to keep you interested. Of course, the underlying moral message is always helpful, too.

One thing we do mind, however, is bad acting, and that will take us right into our first, and least favorite of the trilogy here.

The 2000 film adaptation of Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” is weak. Weak in all regards (except the cinematography) and especially the acting, which felt particularly amateur. Having read the book so long ago that I don’t remember details, I relied on K for feedback on this front; according to him, the film was very different from the book. (We have no problem with that, I’m just pointing it out.) IMO, it sagged a bit; the acting bugged me; the dialog was sub-par, although not totally awful; character development was lacking.

Its one redeeming feature is the storyline about a rather unlikable city slicker spectator and his sister, who put themselves and their guide, Miles (and beloved dog Buck), in critical danger, caught up in Gold Rush fever in Alaska. K glommed onto the man’s buffoonery pretty quickly, and was dutiful in noting every bad decision, made for selfish, greedy reasons. (Aw, it makes you proud, doesn’t it?!)

There is a bit of violence and tension -- a grisly dog fight, a moment of drunken stupidity in a saloon, and a rather intense death at the end of the movie – so it may best viewed by kids upwards of 10 years or so. Keegan gave it a thumbs up.

There are two other versions of Call of the Wild: a 1972 Chuck Heston and a 1935 Clark Gable version. Both have mediocre reviews on Netflix, but I’m interested in trying the Clark Gable version.

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