In showbiz, they say never work with kids and/or animals. I heard this was because it is hard work… something to do with them getting restless easily and not understanding direction. However, I believe this mantra was created not by someone who had to endure the frustrating nature of the situation but by someone who was outshone by them. Let’s face it, anything we as adults can do, they can do cuter. Take, for example, Hollywood babe Ryan Gosling wrapped in Christmas lights and compare him to my family’s dog Denzel wrapped in christmas lights…
I get it ladies! Heart-throb Gosling, especially post The Notebook, is lusted after by women the world over, but look at Denzel! Named after the brilliant Denzel Washington and obviously sporting that same star potential, I know who I’d choose out of these two to find under my Christmas tree.
That would be Denzel. In case you were still unsure.
So now that you get where I’m coming from, please let me present to you my top 5 ‘dogs-stealing-the-spotlight’ movie moments. To clarify, I’m not talking about the lovely puppies we fell head-over-heels for as the central character/s of the movie, ala Beethoven, Homeward Bound, Milo & Otis, just to name a few. I’m talking about the dogs who were given no voice, cast in the darling support role and still ended up being one of the best parts of the film.
1. Zeus in The Lucky One.
Marie and I decided to spend a girls night together recently post-Pilates class and our date of choice was sushi and a chick flick. The movie we chose was The Lucky One. I’m not going to lie, I was not a fan. I thought the subtext was pretty shallow and the characters stereotypical. Enter Zeus.
One of the big selling points for this movie, other than the fact that it was based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, was the hunk factor Zac Efron was supposed to deliver. Sure, he’s grown up and has biceps now but his loving German Shepherd Zeus stole every scene he was in. When Zac’s character Logan began work at a family run kennel it became pretty clear that the array of excellent dogs in the film were the only thing keeping me in my seat until the closing credits. I do really love German Shepherds though, so I may be biased.
2. Bernie in I Am Number Four.
Watching I Am Number Four was an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon. Neither a great or a bad movie, it had most of the things I enjoy – a bit of mystery/adventure, some romance and aliens! But when John Smith aka Number Four met and adopted a beagle (named after an American sporting legend, Bernie Kosar) at the beginning of the story, now that was really what won me over.
I can’t tell you much without giving away the ending but make sure you watch out for that glimmer of ‘knowing’ in Bernie’s gorgeous brown eyes. He definitely ends up being my hero at the end of the story! I hope the three beagles who brought Bernie to life were spoiled with scooby-type snacks because they did a fantastic job.
3. Toto in The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is a childhood favourite for most and understandably too as there’s so much colour, magic, music and imagination that has gone into the big screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel. Dorothy runs away to save Toto being taken by her evil neighbour and that is why she doesn’t make it to the storm cellar in time before the tornado arrives in Kansas, which is then the catalyst for the head knock that sees her dream up the land of Oz. While there, it is Toto who saves the day, fetching the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion and leading them to where Dorothy is being held captive by the evil Witch of the West so they can rescue her. He is also responsible for pulling back the curtain to reveal to all that the Wizard is just a normal man.
Amongst all the grandeur of the sets, costumes and special effects (which were pretty amazing for the time) this tiny, scruffy, cute little pup still ends up being best in show in my opinion.
4. Uggie in The Artist
Another girls night out (it’s our prerogative), Marie and I headed to gold class to watch The Artist. I so desperately wanted to love this film as much as everyone else had but was so worried that the whole time my mind would be hoping that someone would just speak already! The movie started and I thought, this isn’t so bad. Then I saw that John Goodman (love!) was in it and I thought, okay I can get through this. Then just when I was totally immersed in how wonderful the movie was and thought it couldn’t get any better, Uggie came onto the screen. Uggie the Jack Russell was used for most of the scenes but pooches Dash and Dude gave him a well-deserved break every other shot.
To see just how clever Uggie is, check out him out when he was requested for a solo appearance spot on The Ellen Show.
5. The Beast/Hercules in The Sandlot Kids
Finally, and I guess this is the perfect example of working with both kids and animals, my fifth top dog is Hercules from The Sandlot Kids. An absolute classic as far as the Sutherland kids are concerned, we watched this movie over and over and over again and even now in our 20s quote it to each other for a quick, guaranteed laugh.
I grew up with small dogs (Maltese x Silky Terriers, Arnold & Gizmo) and I was petrified of our family friend’s big dog (Rottweiler). The beginning of this movie did not do a lot to ease my anxiety about big dogs wanting to eat me, but then at the end when you realise he’s just a big sweetheart who wants to play some ball, well from that moment on dogs of all sizes crept their way into my heart. Plus James Earl Jones is in it. Darth Vader/Mufasa plus the beautiful Hercules? Sold!
I will definitely make my children watch this movie and the day I hear one of them tell the other that they play ball like a girl, will be a very proud day for me indeed. We will most likely be a big dog family too.