101 Dalmations- Imagine One Hundred And One Anythings Humping Your Leg!

As a monkey lover (not like that you dirty boy! Lol!) I have trouble watching films about animals which don’t feature monkeys. After overcoming this initial disappointment, I sat down to watch this Walter Dizzy classic. The story is about a family who have a hundred Dalmation dogs (the ones which look like zebras) and are entering the American version of Crufts- ‘The Abe Lincoln Sponsored Stars And Stripes Canine Appreciation Gala Contest Bonanza For Dog Breeders Featuring Exciting Races, Daring Obstacles, Grooming Awards, And Stalwart Obedience Show!’ or better known as TALSSASCAGCBFDBFERDOGAASOS! The family hear about a loophole that if someone has 101 dogs of the same breed they automatically win the top prize- the Woofey, and a million one dollar bits. Their dogs are mongrels you see- stupid, ugly, and disobedient. The first part of the show is taken up with the family trying to train their dogs to sit, sleep, run, eat, dance, and sing- this leads to some wonderful hits such as ‘Spot The Wrong’un!’, ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’, ‘Barken’, ‘Oh What A Lovely Bone’ and ‘Get Off My Nice Clean Carpet You Dirty Bitch’. Realising their dogs are useless they try to exploit the loop. Most of the film is taken up by the owners and their lovely children trying to get their puppies to mate so that they reach the target of 101- this led to some questionable scenes which young audiences were not prepared for and the eventual ‘disappearances’ of many of the staff. 40 years later a mass burial site was exhumed where a number of bodies of the staff were found- some with bones inserted in the wrong spot (pardon the puns). Bette Davis spices things up a tad with her portrayal of Cruel Fella D’Evil- a local mobster who went mental when her husband was murdered by the Godfather, Don Niro De Pachinko. She hates the sound of dogs, but loves the taste, and has heard an ancient myth which speaks of ‘the flysh of the one hundred and first born pup shall give eternal life to he who shalt feast of it’. She tries to kidnap number 101 (Ploppy) and eat it, but the other dogs set traps up for her around the house, such as messes under the windows, messes on the hallways, and worst of all, messes on the door handles. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it ends by the plot coming to and end and the credits rolling. Although this was filmed about a hundred (and one!) years ago, the graphics and camera-work are very enticing. Disney were the only studio rich enough back then to make their films in colour, which is why this looks so could compared to other rubbish like Castle Blanka. Unfortunately the unsavoury nature of the plot combined with the toilet humour, and the fact that it was basically a remake of the Nazi propaganda film ‘Eine hundert und eine Rettungen’ or 101 Salvations mean that it makes for inappropriate viewing.

Best Scene: Fred Willard’s humorous commentary throughout the various stages of the dog trials- it was one of his first appearances, at the age of 42.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain- Garth Stein

The Art Of Racing In The Rain

Garth Stein’s novel ‘The Art Of racing In The Rain’ is exactly as the majority of reviews here claim: funny, touching, sad, heart-warming, and thankfully brief. There isn’t much esle to say about the book: these are all reasons to recommend it. Any reader who feels this book may not be for them should reconsider as there is something here for everyone, and Stein’s easy going and free flowing style ensures that the pages flutter by quickly. For what may sound like a tough read: a dying dog relates his life to us, including the death of his master’s wife, the book is full of light moments, largely involving the antics of Enzo, our storyteller- the dog who wishes he was human.

Enzo has lived with his master Denny most of his life. As the story begins, Enzo has accepted that he is ready to die. Thanks too many hours and days watching TV though, he believes that his purpose in this body has been served and that his soul can move on to a new body, and a new life. He then describes his life and loves- watching TV alone while Denny is at work, and particularly watching car races with Denny. Denny is a struggling racer, an expert who needs a break in life, a chance to prove his racing ability. Through all of this Enzo has learnt a great deal about racing, and about human nature. He shares his thoughts on life and using metaphors from the race-track; he shares his thoughts on human nature with a wry humour and desperation from the futile inhabiting of a dog’s body.

Enzo’s life with Denny is as happy as it could possibly be. Then Denny meets and marries Eve. As expected, he doesn’t appreciate sharing Denny’s affections. He is however a dog, a good dog, and knows his place. Their family grows again with the birth of Zoe, who Enzo becomes infatuated with, and becomes protector of. The story takes a darker turn though, as Eve becomes sick, and the family starts to fall apart. Tragic though it may be, this event is necessary as 300 pages of witty dog observations would wear thin quickly. This gives the story a boost and helps the reader feel there is a purpose to it all. However, the following section of the book slows down with the involvement of Eve’s parents, and the accusations aimed at Denny. This I feel is the main negative aspect of the book. These events feel too dragged out when we want Denny to be happy. Along with the ending which feels almost dreamlike, and certain passages which shift from narrative to thought, the book isn’t perfect. There are enough funny moments and enough hope in the darkness to make this one of the best books of the year.