Okay, I admit it — Docurama Films has me hooked. I’m not sure when it started — was it when I saw Dirt, or was The Yes Men Fix the World my undoing? No matter, once I saw My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story I became a devoted follower of the documentary form, especially as presented by Docurama.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always enjoyed — and usually learned something from — documentaries. I’ve seldom suffered the disappointment that big budget feature films often deliver when they fail to live up to their hype when I view a documentary to which I’ve been looking forward.
Living in places where documentaries are seldom shown in theaters is part of the reason I’ve never really given a lot of thought to documentaries. When a “big” documentary (e.g., something by Michael Moore) is released, I anxiously await its arrival on DVD, but if a film isn’t publicized, I don’t know it’s out there (that was until Netflix, our source of a fantastic selection of documentaries delivered right to my PC or TV). It’s a vicious circle; the reviews and publicity don’t appear in the local media because the theaters don’t show documentaries because the documentaries aren’t publicized so no one’s interested. The same holds true for independent films and art films, though you may be aware that I’ve sworn off of them.
My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story (“unconditional” not “unconventional” — get it right!) is a moving account of the contribution dogs make to our lives. Designers, actors, business figures, singers, musicians, poets, authors, and athletes all share stories of their dogs’ places in their lives. One thing they all have in common is that they absolutely dote on their pooches.
Some of the dogs are rescues, some are purebred, and they all are loved. It’s interesting to watch “tough” guys like Richard Belzer and Christopher Meloni speak so emotionally about their canine companions, or to hear poetry from Billy Collins and Edward Albee about theirs. Didi Conn shares stories about her autistic son and his relationship with their dogs. Lynn Redgrave details her decision to get a dog after she became ill with breast cancer.
Some of the dogs are amazingly well trained (or well behaved); Greg Louganis’ dog is a mini Olympian in its own right and Lynn Redgrave’s would go to the theater and wait in her dressing room while she performed, never once barking. Others are more like my dog; Cindy Adams’ dogs are spoiled, Lasse Hallström’s dog is uncooperative, and Isaac Mizrahi’s dogs rule the roost.
So many of those interviewed, like Edie Falco, feel that what the dogs give us is so much more than what we provide them. Veterinarian Amy Attas explains simply and directly what’s wrong with puppy mills.
My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story is “a tribute to all the dogs that have made our lives richer and happier… MY DOG captures the remarkable bond between our dogs and ourselves.” Indeed, it does. Not only will you get an appreciation of the “profound connection” stars like Glenn Close and Richard Gere have with their dogs, you will also get a glimpse into the respect these people have for their canine family members. If you have a dog, it will remind you why; if you don’t, it might tempt you to check out the shelter (I hope it does!).
Extra features on the DVD include 17 minutes of deleted scenes and interviews, filmmaker bios, and trailers.
Bottom Line: Would I buy My Dog, An Unconditional Love Story? Yes, yes, yes! There aren’t all that many films that I watch with a big, dumb smile plastered on my face throughout the entire presentation. (“20% of every dollar earned by the film will be donated to nonprofit animal welfare charities.” There’s another plus.)