Rated PG - Running Time: 1:34 - Released 3/2/01

It is one of those fortuitous accidents of fate that I should attend a screening of See Spot Run during one of the largest snowstorms to hit the eastern U.S. in recent memory. I will always remember cleaning a foot of snow and ice off my car, driving in dangerous conditions to the movie theater, being the only car in the parking lot and the only person in the house, asking the baffled theater workers to run the movie for me alone, and seeing one of the lamest films of this season.

The film stars the ever more annoying David Arquette as a bumbling, dog-hating mailman who, through a series of unexpected circumstances, is forced to take care of his neighbor's kid and a drug-sniffing FBI pooch on the run from the mob. Directed by John Whitesell, who has made a career helming a long list of short-lived '90s TV shows, and written by Stuart Gibbs, Craig Titley, and no less than six other writers, See Spot Run is offensive on numerous levels, sporting off-color humor, fart jokes, mafia stereotypes, logical discrepancies, and, of course, the slapsticky antics of Arquette, whom I have hardly been able to stomach since he got the 1-800-CALL-ATT contract. His pint-sized co-star, Angus T. Jones, is cute, but not enough to save the movie from itself.

When FBI canine Agent 11 (dog) bites mob boss Sonny Talia (Paul Sorvino, who should be ashamed) in a very sensitive area during a drug bust, Sonny swears vengeance. But the two hit men he assigns to "whack" the animal (Joe Viterelli and Steve Schirripa) are ill prepared for the four-footed agent's ability to elude them. Or else they're just too stupid to catch a dog. Agent 11, having been separated from his trainer (Michael Clarke Duncan), seeks refuge with Gordon Smith (Arquette) and his little friend James (Jones), while James's mother (Leslie Bibb) is away on a misfortune-frought business trip. Gordon doesn't like dogs (he's a mailman — get it?), but James prevails on him to let the pooch stay, even though his overprotective mom has specifically forbidden the child from getting a dog. So while both the mob guys and the FBI guys try to find Agent 11, he is re-christened "Spot" by Gordon and James, and the three of them get into all sorts of stupid, specifically-forbidden misadventures.

In a movie like this, one doesn't expect great depth of script (with eight writers, it's a wonder the screenplay is even remotely coherent), but usually we can count on the cuteness factor to make up for textual flaws. In any film with a kid and a dog, the kid and the dog are supposed to possess enough charm to provide counterpoint for the idiocy of the featured adult(s). But the dog playing Agent 11 has been intentionally directed to be boring and un-playful (he's supposed to be a no-nonsense FBI agent, you see) and Jones doesn't exactly have it either. So the burden of charm falls on Arquette, and...well, let's just say it's more of a burden than he can bear. *

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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