Nostalgic Movie Review Time: Benji

Joe Camp's Benji Ultimate 4-Movie Collection (2-DVD Set)Confession: I was a huge Benji fan when I was little. Benji movies were extremely exciting. Something about getting to watch a dog save the day was just a barrel full o’ fun back then. I even had a Benji stuffed animal (which is pretty sick, when you think of it). Actually, I still have that stuffed animal–I’ve since donated it to TRC and DC for their personal enjoyment.

Anyway, I saw that Benji was on Netflix streaming the other day, so I added it to the queue, thinking that it might be a fun family movie to watch. I didn’t really have any high expectations, but I thought it was worth a shot. We watched it, and I discovered a couple of things:

  • Benji’s not that bad of a movie. It was quite watchable, mainly due to the acting. Not of the people–that’s pretty much dreadful across the board. But Benji? That pooch has some acting chops. He’s a smart puppy, and I was continually impressed by all the things he could do on camera. Due in large part to him, I actually started to care about what happened in the movie. No wonder I liked it as a kid.
  • It still has major kid appeal. My kids loved it, especially DC. She thought it was so much fun to watch a dog do cool things.
  • It gets really intense for kids at the end. Even TRC was shaken up. A plot that has as its climax the kidnapping of kids and the beating of a dog? Poor DC–who was drawn in so much by the beginning two thirds of the film–was in tears for the last third. She was really worried about the kids and the dogs. Maybe Benji’s why I was always worried I was going to get kidnapped when I was little. Thanks, Benji.
Overall, it was a good experience. DC’s now sleeping with my old Benji dog, but she has to take turns with TRC for the privilege. If you’ve got kids around the age of 6-8 or so, I’m betting they’d like the film, too. Two and a half stars, maybe a half star more. No, it’s not Casablanca, but for what it is (a dog movie), it’s a pretty darn good example of one. I can see why it launched a franchise.

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