Daniel and the Superdogs (André Mélançon). 102 minutes. Opens Friday (March 4). For venues and times, see Movies, page 91. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Man's best friend is having a bad week. In one theatre you have the insipid and slightly creepy Because Of Winn-Dixie and in another, the bizarre mess that is the true story of Daniel And The Superdogs , a children's film so dark and gloomy it should come with complimentary Prozac.
Take the first scene, where 11-year-old Daniel ( Matthew Harbour ) fights with his obviously overwrought dad over their missing dog, Blue. Luckily, Daniel knows just where Blue might be. He's at his usual spot at Daniel's mother's gravestone, and we get to see in horrifying flashback the apparent aneurism that robbed Daniel and Blue of the woman they loved.
Given Blue's obvious skill at finding his way across town to a lone tombstone, you'd think he was one of the titular Superdogs. He used to be, but since his owner died, he's been too depressed to race in this real-life dog competition that has canines jump through hoops, over bars and through tunnels.
OK, so we have a deceased mom, a sullen child and a dog who permanently plays dead. Does that sound like a child-pleaser to you? The only thing sadder than the storyline are the strained attempts at humour and the casting of Claire Bloom and Jan Rubes in supporting roles.
You don't have to see this to know that Daniel and his dad will bond and the Superdogs will help Daniel and Blue find their smiles again. So don't. In real life it may have been inspiring, but here this is just Worst In Show.