Daniel and the Superdogs André Melançon

There is a certain unpleasant feeling reviewing a children's film you dislike from the get-go. Films for youngsters often have an untouchable shield that renders them an automatic "kids will like it" ho-hum review, if not something better like "even adults will like it!" However, Daniel and the Superdogs left me feeling nothing but contempt for, and completely detached emotionally from, every character. To be honest, it was the dogs that stirred the interest, as anyone who has seen the Eukanuba Superdogs live would know, but even the variety of puppies can't save this film. Set in an English-speaking small town in Quebec (which explains the wooden, sub-par human performances by ESL actors that left me wondering why this wasn't just done in French with English subtitles?), the film tells the story of Daniel, a despondent 11-year-old boy recovering from his mother's sudden death. Constantly getting into trouble, Daniel makes friends with Gypsy, a runaway Superdog who quickly takes a liking and relates to the young boy. Together they overcome their obstacles (Daniel opens up and learns to love again and Gypsy, well, he learns to run obstacles again), something even the smallest kid could see coming from a Superdog course away. The film should be uplifting with its triumphant climax but the emotions within feel forced and banal. Those around Daniel don't help move the picture along either, as it becomes difficult to keep up with everyone and everything going on; I can't imagine a tyke staying abreast throughout (i.e., what's the deal with Daniel's creepy, skinny dog?). Should I be damned to hell for attacking a harmless film? Hopefully not, but when a dog lover can't dig deep enough to enjoy a film filled with them I know heaven ain't happening. (La Fête/Maple)