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If Your Movie Has “Dog” in the Title, It Should Have Dogs in the Movie

The ruff truth

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

Have you heard of the new movie War Dogs? I haven’t seen it, because there are no dogs in it. Lots of movies with the word “dog” in their titles are actually about dogs, like Snow Dogs. No complaints there. But in War Dogs, the lead characters, played by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill, are simply two dudes who squabble about guns and the definition of friendship. Pass.

There are some well-known filmmaking secrets (corn syrup for blood!), but some filmmaking secrets are less known. For instance, here’s a secret about movies that most directors don’t know yet: Every movie with the word “dog” in its title that is not about dogs would be vastly improved if it was about dogs or, at the very least, prominently featured a dog character.

Don’t believe me?

Dogville: The Dogville that currently exists is a 178-minute morality play about townspeople tormenting the glamorous Nicole Kidman on a deliberately ass-ugly set. It’s bleak. It’s Danish. I hate it. There is only one (1) dog in Dogville and it does very little to blunt the horror, so how about this: a reboot where all the characters are dogs. Nicole Kidman is a greyhound. Lauren Bacall is a regal spaniel. Paul Bettany is some sort of albino mutt. Dogville 2: Actual Dogs will make Lars von Trier so rich and happy that perhaps he will stop making movies where the theme is always “rape melancholy.”

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

Wag the Dog: I remember when this movie about political spin-doctoring came out and everyone was like “Damn … true.” What they should’ve also said was “What if the unscrupulous schemers portrayed by Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman were played by dogs?”

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai: Forest Whitaker’s character is a nutty weeaboo assassin who lives in a dump with a bunch of pigeons even though his nickname is Ghost DOG. Missed opportunity.

Slumdog Millionaire: Imagine if Slumdog Millionaire was a comedy about a wealthy, wisecracking pit bull instead of a slick commercial for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and poverty tourism.

The Truth About Cats & Dogs: Wishbone riffed on Cyrano de Bergerac better. Wishbone starred a dog. Coincidence?

Old Dogs: Dog Travolta, I rest my case.

Dogma: This one has naughty angels and a poo monster voiced by Ethan Suplee, but they couldn’t throw an actual dog in there? I’m not mad, I’m furious.

Alpha Dog: You know what I realized from writing this? A lot of movies with “dog” in the title are SUPER FUCKED UP. If you don’t remember, Alpha Dog is about a gang of sexy but evil California dirtbags who kidnap a kid and then murder him. I would say spoiler alert, but the movie is based on true events and you can’t spoil history. To make watching this movie an even more depressing experience, remember that its precocious and gifted victim character is played by a young Anton Yelchin, who died tragically and way too young in real life, too.

To make watching this movie way less depressing, pretend it’s dogs.

Dogtooth: Was there some sort of international director symposium where everyone got together and smoked cigs and shit-talked Jimmy Cameron and decided to throw “dog” into the titles of their most twisted works of art?

Straw Dogs: Another monstrously depressing movie with jack squat to do with real doggies.

Ringer illustration
Ringer illustration

Lords of Dogtown: Skateboarding humans are boring and skateboarding dogs are hilarious. Imagine if one of the dogs could do an ollie with sunglasses on. … I’d watch that flick.

Reservoir Dogs: The best part of Reservoir Dogs is the soundtrack and the worst part is that the characters aren’t played by dogs.

Dog Day Afternoon: This one’s fine.