Pros: Good messaging, appropriate for kids of all ages
Cons: Terrible characters and script
Dogs: I love them. I usually enjoy movies that revolve around them. But sometimes, even a movie loaded with cute dogs fails. Such is the case with Bailey's Billion$ (yes, that's how it's spelled), a movie starring a golden retriever named Bailey.
Bailey just became the world's richest dog, as his wealthy animal-loving owner has died, leaving her vast fortune to Bailey, and naming him as CEO of her company. Further, she has named Ted (Dean Cain) as Bailey's guardian. Ted is a self-described "dog whisperer" - someone adept at reading a dog's body language, and being able to interpret everything the dog is feeling. But this is a kid's movie, so such a talent is shown as Bailey having the ability to talk out loud, but only Ted can hear him.
Thus we have Bailey (voiced by Jon Lovitz) in charge of billions of dollars. Naturally this doesn't sit well with the wealthy lady's greedy nephew and his equally greedy wife (Tim Curry and Jennifer Tilly). They assumed they would be the beneficiaries of the fortune. Seeing it all go to the dog has them barking mad, as one would expect. What will they do? Kidnap the dog, of course!
Ted will have to work with his newest love interest Marge (Laurie Holden), a couple of kids, and a female dog named Tessa to not only save Bailey, but to shut down the evil puppy mill being run by the nephew.
As far as the story goes, Bailey's Billion$ is fine.
However, the movie failed to engage me, for several reasons.
The first problem is that the characters are pretty horrendous. Bailey is a golden retriever - I should have loved him. But, half his personality comes from Jon Lovitz. Thus we have a wise-cracking, sarcastic dog instead of the cute, cuddly dog I'd expect a retriever to be.
Ted is supposed to be a klutzy nerd. But he over-plays this role to the point of looking ridiculous. How many times does he need to trip over his own two feet in the presence of a pretty girl?
But the bad guys are the worst. Curry and Tilly are fine actors but I felt embarrassed for both of them, playing these bumbling idiots. They are grating in every way. Their movements and emotions were played over-the-top. Especially their over-done "happy dance". I get that this is a kid's movie, but I don't know any kids who would enjoy the dynamic of these two.
So we have horrible characters. But we also have a terrible script. Jokes were unbelievably lame. Parents refused to believe anything kids had to say. Kids refused to listen to their parents, putting themselves (and others) in danger. Marge is supposed to be the rational adult, but more than once she does terribly stupid things. And on it went.
I will say that Bailey's Billion$ is fine for kids of all ages. I didn't see anything objectionable. And I appreciated that the humor (what little of it there was) at least didn't sink to the toilet humor that kids seem to love. (Although there were a few references to dog-poo, but that's to be expected in a movie such as this). No bad language, no sex, and no terribly scary scenes.
The movie quickly touches upon the issue of using animals for testing products. It doesn't go into too much detail, but it could be used to open a dialog on the practice. The movie also talks about puppy mills. And, while the discussion about the mills could upset kids, the way they showed the mill (think colorful cartoonish carousel and puppies going 'round and 'round) will come off as silly to adults, but will not scare or emotionally scar the kiddies.
So, when it comes to messaging, this film succeeds. But in all other areas, it fails. Two paws.
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