Film: My Dog Tulip
Cast includes: Christopher Plummer (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), Lynn Redgrave (Gods and Monsters), Isabella Rossellini (Big Night)
Writer/Director/Animator: Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (A Room Nearby)
Genre: Humor/Biography/Animated (2009) Based on an autobiographical novel by J.R. Ackerly
In brief: “Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs.” J.R. Ackerly, the author of the 1956 novel My Dog Tulip, is the central character in this furry tale. When he is “quite over 50” Joe acquires an 18-month old Alsatian (German Shepherd) named Tulip. Joe blames early upbringing for Tulip’s boundless energy and disruptive behavior. She lived with a family that kept her confined, so naturally she is apt to cut up a bit when the doors are opened. Joe finds it a “touching and strange treat that she should find the world so wonderful.” And as the bond grows between man and dog, Joe comes to see the world through Tulip’s eyes. “Tulip came into my life and transformed it.”
Joe delights in every new experience with his “ideal friend.” It doesn’t even bother him that his human friends stop inviting him over because of Tulip’s rambunctious behavior. And it wouldn’t ever occur to Joe to leave Tulip at home. No topic is taboo. “Dogs read the world with their nose.” On the topic of “social urination,” Joe tells us “dogs write their history in urine.” The most detailed chapter turns out to be about finding a “suitable husband” for Tulip. Although Tulip fends off many promising suitors, Joe feels he owes it to Tulip to help her experience the joys of motherhood.
This is an animated movie, but it doesn’t look like a kid’s cartoon. It looks more like cartoons from the New Yorker. In addition to the elegant look of the film, the animation adds creative punctuation to the voice-over by Christopher Plummer. The script comes from Ackerly’s novel, which is charming and quite wonderful. Much of it is very funny. The story is simple with many plot details coming from things that may seem familiar to most dog owners. While I don’t generally like to tell anything about the endings of movies, I feel it would be helpful to mention one thing. Pet owners all know that there is likely to come a sad day when the relationship ends. I was not looking forward to that part of the movie. Well, I am happy to report, the filmmakers spared us the sad parts. This film is joyful from beginning to end.
4 popped kernels
Wonderful and creative animation with a wonder script
Primary Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Appeal: Any audience
Distribution: Art house
Tempo: Cruses comfortably
Visual Style: Animated/computer
Character Development: Not that kind of film
Social Significance: Pure entertainment