Who can resist a movie about cute talking pups dressed as superheroes? This is the first of the successful, straight-to-video Buddies franchise, I’ve managed to watch. Made by KeyPix Productions, and distributed on the Disney label, director Robert Vince, clearly has a firm grip of working with children and animals, which are usually considered the hardest, and so was suitably impressed. Having John Ratzenberger, true Disney/Pixar royalty, was a nice touch, as Ratzenberger was first known for working on Cheers, but later would lend his golden tones to voicing Hamm, on the Toy Story series. He has also worked on WALL-E, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc and Up, to name the majority of his better known titles. Jason Earles from Hannah Montana plays Jack Schaeffer, and Colin Hanks plays Jack’s companion Captain Canine.
The tail begins (I couldn’t resist) on Fernfield Farms, and it’s Bartleby Livingstone’s birthday. As he feeds his pup, Bartleby discovers a prize in the puppy chow, a colorful plastic ring, completing his set of five rings. Bartleby (Trey Loney) wants to be a comic-book writer, so Gramps (Ratzenberger) gives him his birthday present. A rare issue, number 1, of Kid Courageous and Captain Canine, which Bartleby is crazy about. It tells the story of an alien, who comes to Earth from the planet Inspiron, a planet that is protected by five powerful (and colorful) rings. Inspiron is attacked by an evil commander, from the planet Darkonia, who wants the five sacred rings for himself. Captain Megasis must take the rings to safety on Earth. Before leaving, he tells the princess, he’ll return one day to marry her. As Captain Megasis is being chased by the evil Commander, he fires a dud missile, containing the five rings, at Earth, then pretends to blow his ship up, fooling his enemy into thinking him dead, and the rings lost forever.
They, of course, end up being discovered by five cute pups, out on a treasure hunt. They try the rings on round their necks, and soon, all five have super-powers. They each have a different power, like (just add the word “super” in front) stretching, speed, strength, invisibility and mind-over-matter. They stop a bag-snatcher and a sweet-shop robbery (a deed most foul!), then they get hounded (I know) by a reporter, wanting to know all about the pups. While on Earth, Megasis has taken the form of a dog, and for years stayed with a, then, young boy, Jack Schaeffer. Once the pups triggered the rings, the signal was picked up by both parties, so the race is now on, to take back the rings, before the evil Commander gets to them first. Nail biting stuff!
Definitely a good family film, but particularly for younger children, who’ll no doubt watch it until, A) It breaks, or B) You are driven insane, but either way, you’d better have a spare on standby.
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