Mystery DVD Club No 24: One Man And His Dog

A low budget rip-off of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels enters the Mystery DVD Club...

The Mystery DVDs that Den Of Geek writers have been sent have been somewhat of a mixed bag. A wonderful world of discovery to some of the more obscure genre productions – who doesn’t like surprises? – yet often proving the old adage that you do get what you pay for. Can One Man and His Dog prove to be a hidden gem? Don’t hold your breath.

A look at the cover of One Man And His Dog already tells you all you need to know about this movie. Yes, yet another low budget rip-off of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

It’s not a reassuring sign when the DVD has to quote the likes of Front Magazine as saying that this was, apparently ,”The Must See Chap’s Film of 2004″. Surely “chap’s film” is not a category embraced by the Annual Academy Awards yet?

And when one of the main character’s supposedly flashy introduction shows him doing nothing else but watch telly with a meal presented to him by the missus, you know that this won’t score too highly on the witty originality scores.

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For the record, the film is neither really about a man nor his dog, but instead focuses on a bunch of Cockney geezers (who would have guessed?) who get hired by a local ganglord to rob another rival’s priced greyhound. Given that this is effectively a heist movie, it is astonishing, however, to see how poorly the entire heist is executed.

The film is regularly interrupted with a countdown as to how many days are left until the theft. In all other movies of its type this would be the opportunity to stage the plan, overcome obstacles and face them head on. All that’s done here, however, is to see the group sit down and talk inanely about just about 3anything but the actual dognapping. Nothing gets planned nor executed, therefore effectively making a mockery of the entire countdown setup.

Worst of all, however, is the dognap proper, certainly the part of the film that in all other cases would be the highlight of the show. But what happens in One Man And His Dog?

Nothing.

And when I write “nothing”, I don’t mean ‘nothing of interest or importance’, but “nothing” as in zilch or nada. One moment we are just outside the greyhound stadium, the next moment the greyhound is in the group’s possession. How did the gang come across it? What did they do to obtain it? Your guess is as good as mine as we are not privvy to this info. We effectively have a heist movie without the slightest trace of a heist.

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These are not the only instances where we get a feeling that a visit to a Screen Writing 101 class may have been beneficial. Throughout the entire film we never once get a feeling of tension. There really are never any major conflicts to solve or overcome. Anytime something happens a Deus Ex Machina seems to mysteriously solve any potential problems. Even when the stolen greyhound dies in a freak accident (blink and you’ll miss it), the chaps come up with a ludicrous and not exactly very original plan that works without the slightest hitch.

One of the running gags (and I use that word very loosely) also involves a policeman with a moderate Scottish accent and his inability to make himself understood. That kind of stuff can work when played well (think Brad Pitt in Snatch), but this guy here really isn’t all that hard to comprehend. Hell, I am not a native English speaker and even I could grasp what he said!

There’s only one thing worse than a poorly written film and that is a poorly written film that is also poorly filmed. And the cinematography here is abysmal beyond belief. I lost track of the amount of times when characters entered a scene talking but had their heads accidentally chopped off by the camera. Some of the camera decisions also seem to be shite by choice. One of the characters gets introduced through close-ups of his mouth, or should I say close-ups of his lower lip. This is probably meant to look edgy and cool, but ultimately only comes across as badly executed.

Anybody in it that you may recognise? Yep, Billy Murray from The Bill and some bloke who must have been famous enough to have made it onto Celebrity Love Island. This movie was, so far, writer/director Lee Pavey’s first and only feature film. Give a young film fan a camera and a few quid and they all think they can be the next Orson Welles…. or should I say Guy Ritchie.

The arrogance of the crew is revealed by the fact that they even included a blooper reel during the final credits. A blooper reel?! Who do they think they are? Jackie Chan?

Extras are mercifully short and include deleted scenes (Oh, the horror!) and a Making Of feature that is so non-descript that it actually reveals sweet eff all about the Making Of, so is pretty much par for the course.

Now, I have seen a number of stinkers in my life, but I love my trash far too much to let this deter me from bottom feeding whatever comes my way. As a result I often see some kind of good in most every film that comes my way and am often very easily pleased. Hey, just give me some T’n’A and I’ll be happy!