Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Hoffman|
|Music by||Mark Mothersbaugh|
|Edited by||Craig Herring|
|October 10, 2003|
|Box office||$45.3 million|
Good Boy! is a 2003 comedy film, directed by John Robert Hoffman and produced by Jim Henson Pictures, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Liam Aiken as Owen Baker, as well as the voices of Matthew Broderick, Delta Burke, Donald Faison, Brittany Murphy, Carl Reiner, Vanessa Redgrave, and Cheech Marin as the abundant dog characters in the movie. The film was based on the book Dogs from Outer Space by Zeke Richardson. John Hoffman and Richardson collaborated on the screen story, while Hoffman wrote the screenplay.
Owen Baker (Liam Aiken) is a 12-year-old who has been working as the neighborhood dog-walker so he can earn the privilege of getting a dog of his own. Owen's hard work pays off when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Baker (Kevin Nealon and Molly Shannon), let Owen adopt a scruffy Border Terrier that he names Hubble (voice of Matthew Broderick). Owen has little time to make lasting friends, so he hopes Hubble will be his best friend.
Owen does have a friend named Connie Flemming (Brittany Moldowan), a girl his age who lives in the neighborhood, but is bullied by 2 boys named Frankie (Hunter Elliott) and Fred (Mikhael Speidel). But that won't be for long if Owen's parents continue their trend of buying and selling houses. Owen and Hubble get more than they bargained for when after the incident which involves Owen realising that Hubble is a dog from outer space. When Owen wakes up next morning to discover that he can understand every word Hubble says—including the ominous phrase: "Take me to your leaders."
Owen learns that dogs came to Earth thousands of years ago to colonize and dominate the planet. Hubble, who is really named Canid 3942, has been sent by the powerful Greater Dane (voice of Vanessa Redgrave) on a mission from the Dog Star Sirius 7 to make sure dogs have fulfilled this destiny.
The dogs Owen walks include pampered Poodle Barbara Ann (voiced by Delta Burke), cool Boxer Wilson (voiced by Donald Faison), nervous Italian Greyhound Nelly (voiced by Brittany Murphy) and gassy Bernese Mountain Dog Shep (voiced by Carl Reiner).
Despite the best efforts of Owen and this rag-tag group of neighborhood dogs to convince Hubble that everything is fine with Earth's dogs, Hubble soon discovers the awful truth about Earth dogs: "You're all pets!" Things get worse when Hubble learns that the Greater Dane is headed for Earth to do her own inspection. If things don't look right, all dogs on Earth will be recalled to Sirius 7.
Owen and Hubble have to work together to prepare the neighborhood dogs for a visit from the Greater Dane and her Chinese Crested henchman (voiced by Cheech Marin). Owen, Hubble, Connie, and their canine pals set out to whip the other dogs into shape so that they can pass muster.
Owen's efforts fail and the Greater Dane recalls all dogs from Earth. Upset, Owen repairs Hubble's communicator and sends him a message declaring how much he loves him. The Greater Dane hears the message and is left curious by it so she approaches Hubble for his opinion on why the dogs on Earth are subservient to humanity when they should be ruling it. Hubble believes that the dogs and humans have formed a bond of love and loyalty and when asked where his loyalty lies, Hubble asks the Greater Dane to refer to him as Hubble rather than Canid 3942, showing his loyalty is now to Owen. As a result, the Greater Dane sends the Earth dogs back and declares them a separate species. Hubble is allowed to return as well, but on the condition that he removes Owen's ability to communicate with dogs. Owen's parents choose to remain in town for once and Hubble starts to fit in as an Earth dog.
- Liam Aiken as Owen Baker
- Kevin Nealon as Mr. Baker
- Molly Shannon as Mrs. Baker
- Brittany Moldowan as Connie Flemming
- Hunter Elliott as Frankie
- Mikhael Speidel as Fred
- Patti Allan as Ms. Ryan
- Benjamin Ratner as Wilson's Dad
- Peter Flemming as Wilson's Other Dad
- George Touliatos as Mr. Leone
- D. Harlan Cutshall as Mr. Fleming
- Brenda M. Crichlow as Mrs. Fleming
- Paul Vogt as Dog Catcher
- Matthew Broderick as Hubble, a Border Terrier
- Donald Faison as Wilson, a Boxer
- Delta Burke as Barbara Ann, a poodle
- Carl Reiner as Shep, a Bernese Mountain Dog
- Brittany Murphy as Nelly, an Italian Greyhound
- Vanessa Redgrave as The Greater Dane, a Great Dane
- Cheech Marin as The Greater Dane's Henchman, a Chinese Crested
The bulk of the digital effects in Good Boy! involved digitally altering the facial features of the dogs so that in the film, they appear to be talking or expressing a different emotion (sometimes called CG muzzle replacement). These effects were handled by Rainmaker Studios.
The film's domestic total gross was around $37 million, with a worldwide gross of around $45 million. Good Boy! received mixed reviews from critics, earning a 45% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times disliked the way Good Boy! was handled. "Sometimes it works to show their lips moving (it certainly did in "Babe"), but in "Good Boy!" the jaw movements are so mechanical it doesn't look like speech, it looks like a film loop. Look at "Babe" again and you'll appreciate the superior way in which the head movements and body language of the animals supplement their speech."
However, Good Boy! has gained a cult following and many people and channels (such as Access Hollywood, United Paramount Network, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Jeanne Wolf's Hollywood) praised the film. There was also a BBC-animated short film from 2002 that accompanied the entire theatrical release. It is called Hamilton Mattress, and after the release, it was on Cartoon Network. Afterwards, in 2004, it was released on DVD and VHS.