Monday, July 11, 2016

Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw (1988)

Another weekend down and now it's time to roll through that giant monster catalogue and see what we can pull out. Today's selection? A movie spin-off of a cartoon based on a popular 1980s toyline. The nostalgia alarm is going full tilt on this one, my friends. And sure, you can argue that it shouldn't count as the plot doesn't really revolve directly around the giant beasty. But then, he's in the damn title, so shut up because you're still wrong.

"Pound that, ya pukes."

Growing up in the 1980s means remembering a great many toylines and cartoons from the era, which does include the Pound Puppies. They were a grey area toyline, not really marketed for any specific gender as toys often tend to be. They could be easily enjoyed by boys, girls, vampires, swamp monsters, attack helicopters, and even that lump of mysterious growth in the fridge. The idea is pretty simple too, as it's about a world where dogs and cats can communicate with humans. Also, dogs and cats wear clothes. These were not things present with the toys, but hey, cartoons tend to follow their own logic.

Like there being an ocean...under the ocean...oh yeah, and fire.
Now, seeing as the story itself tends to just assume you're familiar with the characters from the cartoon itself, the movie doesn't spend a lot of time building character. Well, except for in one very obvious place. But yeah, here's a short list of the characters and their basic info.

  • Cooler: he's the main character & de facto cool guy.
  • Nose Marie: known for being flirty, her sniffer & being the den mother. Is into Cooler.
  • Howler: he's the inventor & he howls compulsively.
  • Bright Eyes: she's a young cheerleader dog & is unsurprisingly very energetic.
  • Whopper: the de facto kid, known for telling "whoppers".
  • Beamer: he's a gentleman & generally pretty happy.
  • Reflex: he has a tic in that every time a bell rings, he compulsively kisses everyone, declaring he loves them.
  • Hairball: he's a fat cat who coughs up hairballs.
  • Charlamange: Hairball's tomboyish girlfriend.
There you go, the important players of our tale...barring the new introductions, of course, as I will go over them during said plot. So, let's wag our tails and get to business.

And our business just so happens to be rather large.
The movie opens up on an adult Whopper scolding a careless teenager who almost gets run down crossing the street, then proceeding onto the museum. On the way there he proceeds about telling his nephew and niece the story of Puppy Power and how it allows cute domesticated pet-type animals to behave like humans, making things like dog pounds even more ethically questionable in nature. Yay! Back in them there Dark Ages, all the knights were on the lookout for the mystical sword Excalibur, as whoever pulled it from the stone would become the king of England. Hmmm....that story seems familiar.

Man, The Sword in the Stone is a lot more graphic than I remember it being.
Anyway, the bad thing is that the last knight standing was Sir McNasty, the evil black knight...who actually looks like he's wearing red armour at first...then is wearing silver armour. How is this guy the black knight? Eh, whatever. On his way to go look for the sword with his goofy looking band of knights, he gets whacked on the head by rather small stick a boy and his dog are playing fetch with. The rational thing here is to, of course, go into a homicidal rage and chase the child and his pet down with a fucking battle axe. Lovely. I'm sure he'll make a great king.

Nothing says "great ruler" like the slaughter of a child and his dog.
They get trapped at some thorny vines while what we can assume is the paw of...well, Big Paw, lifts them for them to escape. Sir McNasty chases the boy and his dog until the two come across Excalibur and a bone, both sticking out of a stone that rise from a lake. Of course, both pull their objects from the stone, Big Paw's shadow scares off the goober knight with a bloodlust, and it becomes clear that the boy is Arthur. And his dog can now talk to him. You see, the bone I mentioned? It's called the Bone of Scone and it has magical powers that allow humans dogs (and cats, I guess) to talk to one another. So, there you go, the history of this alternate reality where dogs act and dress in a very human manner...despite there still being things like dog pounds.

In a world where they are clearly as intelligent as humans, isn't this sort of like cute cuddly human trafficking?
Sir McNasty planned to take the Bone of Scone to use it to rule the world...somehow... I'm still not entirely sure how, especially in those days, but yeah, there you go. Also, the descendants of his medieval henchmen still work for his descendant, because of course they do. fast forward to 1958, where the world altering bone is now in a museum and talking dog babies are given away to humans, which I still find rather questionable. We see our characters dancing it up and singing about great the dog pound is...and I find myself facing a new question, because one of the characters, Collette, has just had puppies. And I am left wondering...who is the father? Seriously, it's a question I kept asking myself until I noticed the Cooler and her seemed...chummy. Does this mean that...Cooler is giving away his kids?

"I don't have time for kids. I've got literal bitches to impregnate, my man."
And if the whole thing wasn't questionable ethics-wise already, who should come in to adopt some puppies but Marvin McNasty, a man who looks like Bozo the Clown's Satanic brother. Whopper finds out his actual desire to mistreat the puppies by turning them into evil guard dogs, but no one believes him because he's known for being a liar. Well, guess those puppies are fucked now. more sacrifices to man's evil machinations, I suppose. Then again, the dogs are literally giving their young away, so mankind isn't the only thing I'm narrowing my eyes at here.

Don't you even think that adorable vacant stare can fool me! I'm onto you!
And, because this is an animated children's film, shenanigans will be afoot, like McNasty's bumbling henchmen going after the Bone of Scone in the museum and Whopper biting a damn dinosaur skeleton, because he's a puppy. Also, Cooler is apparently a descendant of King Arthur's dog, because plot convenience. Other things that happen are McNasty sneezing because he's allergic to cats and Reflex hearing a bell and almost making the villain break character as supposedly sweet guy. A sweet guy with razor sharp teeth.

If you can't trust Heihachi Mishima's fat American cousin, who can you trust?
But yeah, all this leads to Whopper going after them alone, the bumbling henchmen breaking the Bone of Scone in half, the kid running off with one half while they go after him, and everyone having to accept that he told the truth. They try to help stop the bumblers, which included the mother who just gave birth to a litter chasing one and biting the ass of the other when he goes into her kids' bed for the other half of the bone.

That's a face that says "I'm not even getting paid for this..." right there.

They vacuum Collette off of his ass along with Whopper and take off with the half there, but the skinny idiot left the other half at the museum meaning they don't have both. Then our heroes are alerted to the fact that the two dogs have been kidnapped and now the newborn puppies will probably starve, unless Cooler has knocked any of the other girls up so they can possibly lactate. I wouldn't hold it past him, honestly.

My money is on Bright Eyes, because Cooler is a bastard.

They plan to follow the badguys to the woods, but there is a clear fear that Big Paw may brutally kill them all. Also, cat racism occurs when Cooler tells the Pound Purries they can't come because "tracking's a dog's job". Seriously, that's pretty iffy and it actually kind of shocked me as a kid too. The things they used to get away with in kid stories, right? Impregnation, slavery, and racism. It's always an adventure when I check out a movie. They proceed into the woods where they all have a song about vivid surreal hallucinations with some shit that looks like it popped out of a budget version of the Grinch's Halloween special.

If you see these while playing Pokemon Go, please don't catch them. Kill them. The world is scary enough.
While the enjoyed their acid trip, the villain turns the puppies from earlier into evil musclebound dogs, then proceeds to sing a song about how he's going to be the king of everything and how he'll let us kiss his ring. Yes. Let's keep going, please. More things happen, our heroes nearly dine in a mine shaft but get saved by the Purries, because cats don't let dog racism define them. The heroes get stuck in the swamp until some weird furry vines lower so they can pull theirselves out and it turns out that vines aren't furry, because it's actually Big Paw. Initially he looks menacing (see the earlier image of him) but he's actually just a big shaggy puppy who is lonely. Then he sings a song about how he just wants love and looks like he's wearing furry pants at some point, meaning he's the only one of these talking male dogs who ever wears pants outside of Whopper's shorts he wears as a child.

Probably needs to wear them because he's got a BIG BIG BIG BIII-IIIG COCK.
I want to stop here and talk a bit about these song segments too, which play out like very very bizarre music videos. And while the McNasty one was especially weird, followed closely by the hallucinating monsters in the woods one, the Big Paw song takes the cake. Hell, the song itself is kind of weird as it is a rewritten version of the Duke of Earl song, only reflecting the emotional torment of being a giant immortal dog ho lives alone in the woods. Also, bad news for Cooler, because I think Bright Eyes is interested in what Big Paw is packing in them furry pants.

Guess he'll just have to go knock up every other female dog.
They decide to be friends and the story rolls along, so here's McNasty's basic plan: use the Bone of Scone to turn all dogs into his evil minions, thus allowing him to exert control over the entire world. Now, I like dogs alright, but...um...no? I'm fairly certain that military leaders would probably just shoot them all. Hell, we had a horror movie about evil dogs and they didn't take over the world in the end. they died. But I'm overthinking it, I know. And hey, it's a world where dogs wear clothes and act like humans, so maybe some military leaders are dogs and we'd all be right fucked. They'd unleash the dogs of war upon us.

Which means Christopher Walken is gonna fuck our shit right up.
The race is then on to stop McNasty's plan as we get close to the end, with the final confrontation involving everyone being at the museum and many of the group being turned evil by the Mean Machine. But, through the power of a bell and Reflex's tic, they free them all with the power of him forcing himself upon them, as dogs often tend to do when horny. They stop McNasty's plan, fix the Bone of Scone, restore Puppy Power so the humans can understand them again, and the villain gets mind-raped into a good person, because brainwashing is fine when it's a bad person. The film ends on the reveal of Big Paw now working at the museum, so he can always look after the Bone of Scone, and the credits roll before we can start wondering about what he and Bright Eyes' puppies might look like.

Unless we've already seen them somewhere else...hmmm...
Now, in the end, was it a bad movie? Ehhhhh....not really. I don't think it was really theater worthy, but ultimately it's not a bad film. It's cute and mostly harmless, giving young fans of the cartoon and stuffed toys a new adventure to experience. The animation doesn't stand up to some of the much better animated spin-off films of the era (Jetsons: The Movie, DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, The Chipmunk Adventure, etc.), but it is a step up from the actual show that it ties into. I do wish we could've seen Big Paw being more useful, as in the film he really only helps them in small ways and by serving as the means to chase the villains at the end.

Which actually highlighted a size-consistency problem.
At least he was more useful than their human friends, Tammy and Jeff, though. But the main problem the film had actually was the fact that Big Paw's size seems to fluctuate. He goes from being truly massive to looking not much bigger than a St. Bernard in some scenes, which can be a bit confusing. If this were simply an episode of the show, I'd shrug it off, but this was a theatrical film, so it really should've been handled better. It does remind me though, we don't see a lot of giant dog monsters, do we? They seem to be a rarer breed, which I would assume is due to people having a bit of a soft spot for dogs in general. But don't worry, they do exist and I shall bring these giant canine creatures to you! Until then, let's try and put the animal racism and ethics in keeping talking animals in a pound behind us. Tomorrow is another day and it's gonna be packing a some teeth. Later days, bleeders!

Cooler probably fucked Tammy too. Enjoy that thought.

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