Rescue Dogs (PG)

Family 87 min. April 1, 2016
By Amy Brady
Like many family films, the good-hearted Rescue Dogs: The Movie takes place in a simplified world where beautiful (and mostly white) people solve huge problems quickly and with impossibly good luck. But it also departs from the genre. Starring actual rescue animals dubbed with human voices, the film is the result of a partnership with 20 or so animal charities across the country aimed at finding homes for rescued dogs and other animals.

The plot is sweet and occasionally baffling. Tracy, a twinkly-eyed, big-hearted chef, is about to lose his grandfather's beachside restaurant to the mysterious E-Vaul Corp. But with the help of his rescue pup, Charger, Tracy forms a plan, and then several more, to save his livelihood. Tracy has a love interest, too, but their attraction makes for a convoluted subplot that can't compete with the cuteness of the animals — in one establishing shot, a couple of sandpipers go "blurb, blurb, blurb" as they peck bugs from the tides. Now that's cute.

Parents born in the '80s will appreciate some witty references. Drawn from Inspector Gadget's faceless Dr. Claw, the villainous CEO always sits in shadow, a lighting choice that exasperates his kitty pal, Nightmare, who can't find her litterbox in the dark. In keeping with the film's rescue-animal ethos, Nightmare is a purebred.

Yes, Rescue Dogs is at times nonsensical, even by the standards of children's entertainment — its cases of mistaken identity come out of nowhere, and there's no way that Tracy's adult, beach-bum brother could function in the real world without constant supervision. But it's well-meaning and at times actually quite charming, especially when reminding us that all creatures, even the four-legged kind, are worth caring for.
M.J. Anderson, Haik Katsikian Paul Haapaniemi, Courtney Daniels, Jordan Rawlins Jordan Rawlins Busted Buggy Entertainment

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