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Release Date: June 26, 2015 (Limited)
Directors: Kasi Brown, Brandon Walter
MPAA Rating: NR

For being sold as something of a spoof film, Kasi Brown and Brandon Walter’s Gone Doggy Gone is a surprisingly earnest and, dare I say, deep film about the relationship we have with our pets and the personal insecurities we project onto them.

The film revolves around a young married couple (Brown and Walter), who treat their entirely-too-adorable Yorkie as if it was their own child. They feed it people food at the dinner table; they transport it in either a baby björn or stroller; and they dress it up in ridiculous, but yet again, incredibly adorable clothing.

One day, they allow their downtrodden friend, Jill (Shaina Vorspan), to dog sit while they pack their things and prepare for a move to San Francisco. Jill returns to them hours later without the pup and informs them he’s been dognapped. What starts as a frantic canvasing of the area quickly evolves into a frantic cross-country roadtrip of self-reflection and various other hijinks.

The comedic style of Gone Doggy Gone is all over the map, sometimes relying on snappy dialogue, sometimes spoofing kidnap thrillers, and other times hitting the more low-brow gross-out style. The laughs per minute ratio is quite high in this one, and more of the jokes land than do miss, with the cleverly written dialogue outshining many of the visual gags. For dog lovers such as myself, I’m also somewhat ashamed (but not really) to say there were multiple instances that I saw a slightly skewed version of myself being reflected back at me by these characters.

The two main characters, Abby and Eliott, are stuck in a marriage that’s floundering, but both seem to be too self-centered to realize it. They coddle their dog as if it was their child – perhaps because Abby is petrified of the thought of actually having a baby. When the dog goes missing and the couple is removed from their complacent little bubble and forced to confront their issues, we realize this is more than just about a Yorkie. (Did I mention he’s completely adorable?)

While this is the centerpiece of the film, there are several side plots that take place among several of the couple’s friends. We follow Jill as she’s fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend and Kat (Kate Connor), who simply can’t seem to accept that she’s 42. There’s also an entirely different subplot, featuring a father and son detective team that gets hired to track down the dog.

Although the movie itself is only an hour and half, all these additional side plots make the film feel bloated and too lengthy. While some of them, mainly Jill’s story, are needed for some background information, it still feels like they could be tightened up a little. Yet these extraneous bits aren’t enough to detract from the overall entertainment value of the film as a whole though, and Gone Doggy Gone is still a fun watch.

Oh, and for those reading this who have family members that always seem a little too close to their pets, make them watch this and enjoy as they awkwardly laugh at themselves on the screen.

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