Based on a Hugo Award winning novella by Harlan Ellison, A Boy and His Dog follows a young man (a very young Don Johnson) who has a telepathic link with a super-intelligent dog as they wander across a hellish post-apocalyptic landscape in 2024. Since Mad Max, this kind of “every man for himself/world of barbarians” post-apocalyptic film has become almost cliché. But, I’ll give A Boy and His Dog the benefit of the doubt and say that I don’t know of anything like this made earlier.
There’s not much to the plot. “the boy” wants to get laid, the dog wants to find a utopia called “Over the Hill,” and various savages with rifles try to enslave or kill them. Later, we get a sequence in “Downunder,” a community of more organized underground survivors who live in a parody of conformist, small-town America. Ellison hates conformism!
There’s a very low-budget, early-independent-film feeling to the proceedings, and I can see how this would become a cult classic. It is very dark. And, as I said, it’s short on plot. Blood, the dog, actually gets some great character moments; he’s the best thing about this film. And, the black comedy surprise ending is certainly worth a chuckle. The rest of the movie… well, let’s just say that I’m getting sick of these dystopias. And the next Hugo-winning movie is also about some evil totalitarian Empire. It never ends.
The film has been accused of misogyny in the past, and I think the argument has merit. You could say that the film is simply portraying a brutal and misogynistic world, but it's still disturbing how little of the perspective of the few female characters we get here. Women are either playthings, victims, or manipulators.