See Spot Run

Directed by John Whitesell
Starring: David Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Angus T. Jones, Paul Sorvino, Leslie Bibb.
MPAA Rating: PG for crude humor, language and comic violence.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
March 4, 2001

See Spot. See Spot Run. Run Spot, Run! The words of a legendary author -- made anonymous over the years, like the many rabbis and monks who wrote the Bible. The refrains of Dick, Jane, and their canine friend, Spot, resonate through the collective consciousness of the English-speaking world. Such great literature can never be properly adapted for the screen, and we are fortunate that the makers of See Spot Run did not attempt anything so bold. Their title is a mere reference that tries to capture the innocence associated with that classic work. The story they tell is one of flatulence and excrement, and ultimately of love and acceptance.

David Arquette deftly portrays an idiotic postal worker named Gordon Smith. He works for the U.S. Mail Service -- not to be confused with the U.S. Postal Service, which requires its employees to pass a test that proves them to have an intelligence level that is at least above idiotic. His greatest nemeses, naturally, are dogs, and his route is full of them. The last thing he needs is a dog in his life. Actually, the last he needs is a child in his care, but somehow both of these things happen.

His ex-girlfriend, Stef (Leslie Bibb), has to leave town on business, and is forced to leave her little boy, James (Angus T. Jones), with Gordon after her regular babysitter gets food poisoning. Of course, her overnight trip is unexpectedly extended, and Gordon has to take James with him on his route. Lo and behold, an FBI drug-sniffing dog jumps into his truck while running away from a pair of mob hitmen. The dog got their boss (Paul Sorvino) busted and took one of his testicles for a souvenir, so now the dog has to die. At this point, the dog must shack up with Gordon and think for the both of them until the film comes to its predictable conclusion.

Along for the ride is Michael Clarke Duncan as the dog's forlorn trainer, but I don't think this role will get him another Oscar nomination. Without the presence of Tom Hanks, he's pretty screwed. See Spot Run actually makes me pine for the subtle genius of Turner and Hooch. Arquette is his usual annoying self, and this project suits him all too well. Sorvino looks quite embarrassed to be involved with the picture. Worst yet, Joe Viterelli and Steven R. Schirripa are again typecast as the same goombah hitmen they have played all their careers.

But this film was definitely meant for the kids, who don't care about Italian stereotypes or movie clichés -- everything is new to them. They'll laugh at all the doodie and fart jokes -- there are plenty to go around -- and will probably have a pretty good time. I just feel sorry for the unlucky parents who will have to accompany them. It will be an extremely painful experience, and I recommend avoiding it if at all possible. Go rent My Dog Skip and everybody will be much happier.

It's not just the lameness of the film that makes it unbearable for the adults; it's the underlying cruelty in the film that is really upsetting. I was shocked at the amount of violence against animals depicted in the film, with some scenes causing me and other adults in the theatre to audibly gasp. The kids, having grown up with the Home Alone series, are used to this level of violence by the age of six. A responsible parent should not continue this ritual of desensitizing, and shun this film altogether.

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Review © 2001 Matt Heffernan