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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The trick of J.R. Ackerley’s classic literary memoir to Man’s Best Friend is the juxtaposition between his belles lettres style and the blunt coarseness of all the particulars beyond the poetry of canine companionship as the maddeningly perfect prose settles in to profile poop, pee & procreation. This lovingly animated film, a true artisan project from Paul & Sandra Fierlinger, raises the stakes by washing everything in charmingly varied illustrative techniques that run the gamut from Lake District watercolor to sketch-pad doodling & Thurberesque whimsy. It proves, perhaps, too much. Christopher Plummer probably errs in voicing Ackerley as an old codger, a debatable choice that's accentuated by close miking which emphasizes his every percussive, wheeze & spittle spray. Still, those who love the book can hardly complain, since the British eccentricities of doggie love are captured in all their mid-‘50s extremity. By current standards, the behavior of man & beast (well, mostly man) comes off as bizarre, funny, irresponsible & more than a little sad.

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