Friday, January 29, 2010

1976 Hugo for Dramatic Presentation - A BOY AND HIS DOG

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.

It also annoys me that the original trailer shamelessly rips off the original A Clockwork Orange trailer. This is no Kubrick film.

Grade: C+

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