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A Boy and His Dog (1975)

July 29, 2010

9/10 Man’s Best Friends

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me how good this was? Jesus, what the hell else have I been missing out on all these years?

A Boy and His Dog takes place in the distant future of 2024 where modern civilization’s been wiped clear out by the five-day nuclear orgy that was World War IV. Wandering around the said wasteland are an uneducated, reckless teenager and his telepathic mutt who are searching high and low for the only two things that they and everyone else seem to give half a shit about any more: food and tail. But since one isn’t exactly at their sharpest while hungry and horny, this unlikely team soon find themselves caught up in a well-planned scheme aimed to divide them and foster a new breed of “society”.

Man, the last time I saw a dark comedy set around the apocalypse like this was probably Dr. Strangelove and I don’t get why more film makers aren’t getting the humor. Sure, everyone you know is probably either dead or dying, you’ve adopted a newfound love for the taste of Alpo and Twinkies and the only hope for continuing the human race lies with you and that girl in the corner who may or may not have a foot growing out of her head. But, hey, things could be worse. At least you’ve got a gun.

I don’t know, after getting so used to dystopias where everyone’s all sad and angry about it being the End of Days – not to say that I’m gonna stop loving those stories any time soon – it’s a nice change of pace to find a movie that revels in the despair for once. I mean, isn’t this premise just ripe with material that has yet to be tapped? Geez, Kurt Vonnegut made a career out of this observation, and since he’s the freakin’ man, I don’t see why everyone had to get so serious.

The script is based off a novella by one Harlan Ellison, and I don’t know how many of you folks are familiar with the guy, but after recently discovering one his more noteworthy pieces, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”, I gotta say, that Harlan sure is a grim and interesting fella’. If the synopsis up there didn’t already give it away, the dude doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of faith in humanity and ain’t exactly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (which is understandable) and as a result his writing feels more like it came from the mind of Philip K. Dick’s evil twin than anything else. But since it never hurts to have a certain sense of humor towards the de-evolution of mankind, it’s all good and writer/director L.Q. Jones does a bang-up job of bringing that to the forefront of things.

All the same, this wonderfully warped script wouldn’t be measure up to a whole lot without the help of an outrageously young Don Johnson as our boy, Vic, and his dog, Blood – the smartest, most sarcastic mongrel I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot of ’em). Yeah, the idea of a kid who telepathically communicates with his dog might turn as many people away as it attracts, but the dynamic between these two works so well not only because they borderline hate each other and incessantly rag one another for being a dumbass teen or a mangy fleabag, but becuase they’d be pissing up a rope if they were going it alone. But the crazy thing about it is that even though Vic is a fantastic, dim-witted anti-hero to drive the story along, Blood is arguably the best thing this movie has going for it.

He’s got all the best lines, he’s the best character by a long shot and Tim McIntire provides him with an absolutely perfect voice to convey all his asshole commentary. More often than not, anything involving talking animals can go to hell, but since Blood thinks and talks more like a human then Vic does, once again, it’s all good. So suck on that, G-Force.

A Boy and His Dog isn’t your typical apocalypse, and it might lean a little too much on the “morally fucked up” side of things for me to recommend it in the way I could Children of Men or something, but the refreshingly awesome contrast between happy-go-lucky (if you can even call it that) and impending doom is too damn hard to resist. There’s no tree-hugging message behind it all, no quest for hope, no good guys or bad guys, it’s just two “buddies” on a road trip making the best out of shitty situation in a strangely believable world where getting laid by any means necessary is just as important as survival. It’s ridiculous, it’s insane and while it might not be a visual feast by any means, I can’t remember the last time I came across such a well-written upper/downer of a script with such great characters and humor that made me want to watch it all over again as soon as it ended.

And for anyone out there who’s actually seen this, how about that last scene, huh? Freakin’ NUTSO!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2010 12:51 am

    Never heard of this but earning this kind of high grade from you certainly makes it worth it of a watch. I added this to my netflix!

    • July 29, 2010 9:43 am

      haha, hope you dig it, man. it’s definitely something different.

  2. July 29, 2010 6:15 am

    Nice review…again, I’ve not come across this but I’m going to check it out after reading this.

    • July 29, 2010 9:43 am

      Do it to it, man. Heard about it for ages but it kept getting pushed down on my queue as usual. Very awesome stuff, totally nuts.

  3. July 29, 2010 3:28 pm

    Great review!! I have never even heard of this film…it sounds awesome! Will have to add it to the queue immediately!

    • July 29, 2010 3:31 pm

      Haha, thanks! Seems like something you’d dig, hope I’m right on this one. Enjoy!

  4. July 29, 2010 5:55 pm

    I’ve heard of this, but Netflix is being a bitch loading today.

    And Kurt Vonnegut is, indeed, Da Man.

    • July 30, 2010 7:55 am

      Damn right he is, always love meeting someone who agrees. Good on ya’.

  5. July 29, 2010 5:56 pm

    Oh, I gotta see this now. It’s trippy because that is NOT the poster you would imagine would to accompany a film called A Boy and His Dog! haha

    • July 30, 2010 7:54 am

      You’re dead-on about the poster, man. Same for the title, totally misleading and probably the one reason it took me so long to watch this thing. But hey, sometimes it pays to take that leap. Hope you dig it!

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