Monday, October 3, 2011

Cujo

Directed by Lewis Teague.
1983. Rated R, 93 minutes.
Cast:
Dee Wallace
Daniel Hugh Kelly
Danny Pintauro
Christopher Stone
Ed Lauter
Kaiulani Lee
Billy Jayne


A rabid St. Bernard terrorizes a woman (Wallace) and her son (Pintauro).

What?

That’s all I’ve got.

Oh alright, there is a little more to it than that. Namely, the woman is an adulterer who finds herself alone with the boy on the property where the crazed dog runs things because her hubby has just a little pimp in his blood. He drives a shiny new Jag while she putts around in a beatup Pinto that’s badly in need of repair. By the way, is there any other kind of Pinto? Anyhoo, after finding out about his wife’s indiscretions, hubby takes off in the Jag on a business trip and pretty much tells her to suck an egg when she asks about getting the Pinto fixed…ahem…worked on. I don’t think it’s actually possible to fix one. Though he doesn’t use the term “suck an egg”, he makes it clear she needs to cross her fingers and pray she makes it all the way to Joe Camber’s (Lauter) place for him to fix…er…work on it. Joe’s not only the local repairman, he’s also Cujo’s owner. Early on, we see that Cujo’s caught rabies. Unfortunately, Joe is neither terribly bright nor perceptive so the dog is far too gone by the time Joe picks up on it. Poor Joe.

This whole setup takes up half the movie. Basically, that means we watch a not-so-thrilling soap opera play out before the dog starts killing people. By that time, we’re kind of rooting for the dog because we don’t like the people. In particular, we don’t like the wife. That’s a bit of a problem when Cujo has her and the boy trapped in the rust-bucket. Do we really want her to live? I guess so, for the kid’s sake. Like most dads, self included, you just never really know if he can actually raise a child by himself. I mean, what the hell do you do after playing catch and going for ice cream?

The latter half is mostly Cujo slobbering, barking and doing further damage to the Pinto in an effort to make a Scooby-Snack out of mom and son. To give us breaks in the action, hubby gets all pissed because she’s not answering the phone and has to come all the way home to check up on her. That’s the house phone she’s not answering, for you young’uns. Before every teenager had a cell phone in their pocket, or purse, that’s used for everything up to and maybe including brushing your teeth (isn’t there an app for that?), the only phones 99.9% of the population had was this giant block of plastic either on an end table or screwed to the wall in their house. No silly, you couldn’t watch Cujo on it. It only made and received calls. You know what else? If you left home, no one could reach until you reached some other place that had a phone. Honestly though, a cell phone would’ve solved a lot of problems, here.

Alas, this is 1983 and there are no cell phones. This means we’re stuck with watching mom play hide and seek with this behemoth of a dog who’s coat grows more matted by the second. If you held a gun to my head and asked me which one were smarter I’d have to say the dog. He’s so smart, he doesn’t even ram the back of the Pinto. That would’ve blown up the car and him along with it. I swear. Google “exploding Ford Pinto”. Anyhoo, he seems to be a step or two ahead of her the whole time. He’s like Alonzo in Training Day. He’s playing chess while she’s struggling with checkers. Are we still sure we want her to live? I guess so. Again, for the kid’s sake. If Cujo manages to take her out, this little whiny brat ain’t gonna be much problem.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the movie isn’t that great. The first part makes us dislike everyone except the dad, who isn’t in any danger. The second half provides the occasional thrill but mostly drones on and on and on. Woof woof woof drool drool growl growl woof woof. Of course, being based on a Stephen King novel has made this an overrated movie. Some see it as a classic of the genre. It’s okay. I suppose it’s the best picture ever made about a killer dog, but that’s not really saying much.

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