At the time of being crowned winner of Britain’s Got Talent back in 2012, Pudsey the dog – alongside his trainer Ashleigh – had the reputation and pedigree (no pun intended), to pull in the crowds with their own feature length movie. However before hitting the big screen, there needs to be a script written, then financing needs to be found. Then there is the casting, the shoot itself – not to mention the arduous post-production process. So eventually, by the time the film is finally ready for viewing, you can’t help but wonder if there is actually anybody left who is still bothered.
Nonetheless, what can’t be denied is the good-natured sense of adventure, as we watch on as Pudsey (voiced by Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams), is taken in by Gail (Jessica Hynes) and her three children, offering this once stray dog shelter and a family. Pudsey then learns of a dastardly plan by the unhinged landowner Thorne (John Sessions) to rip this village apart and build a new shopping centre. So it’s now the dog’s turn to repay the favour to his new owners, and save the community once and for all.
While of course aimed at a very young audience, there is a surreal, quite outlandish undertone to Nick Moore’s production, that has the occasional, subtle gag implemented for the older members of the audience. There’s a deranged flashback sequence of Sessions’ Thorne as a young child which is enough to give this writer nightmares, never mind a six year old child. Though nobody looks quite as bewildered by it all than the eponymous lead himself, with an endearing and blissful unawareness to what is going on around him. Though his party tricks and cute, puppy dog eyes are enough to let this movie off the hook in many instances.
The real star of the show is Sessions, however, who has this erratic volatility and amusing eccentricity to his demeanour, making for a memorable turn as the film’s chief antagonist. Walliams also puts in an equal amount of conviction into his vocal performance, though at times it can become somewhat distracting. In a sense, his voice is almost too distinctive and recognisable, making it difficult to suspend your disbelief. Not that this feature is going for realism exactly, but when you hear Pudsey talk, you can’t help but picture Walliams in a recording booth, which takes you out of the story at times.
Of course, and as with any film of this ilk, Pudsey the Dog: The Movie is not to be taken at face value, as a film aimed at a young, undemanding crowd that are sure to enjoy this inane piece. That being said, it remains as a somewhat underwhelming effort, and you only need to look as far as Babe to see that talking animals can make for brilliant films for the entire family, and not completely alienate the parents in the audience, as this endeavour sadly does.