Movie review: ‘My Dog Tulip’ rhapsodizes on the earthy reality of pet love
As a general rule, movies about dogs are marked by certain tried-and-true conventions – cuddly cuteness, frisky mischief, aching sentimentality and an underlying anthropomorphism that ascribes to canines human traits that allow us to see our best selves in our pets.
It’s a tradition as old as “Old Yeller” and “Lassie Come Home” and as contemporary as “My Dog Skip” and “Marley and Me.” And when the films are animated – a la “Lady and the Tramp” or “Bolt” – the results are usually family-friendly romps with the realities of canine life fantasized and sanitized.
But with “My Dog Tulip,” drawn quirkily from the 1956 memoir of British academic J.R. Ackerley, dog ownership gets a bracing and biting dose of earthiness as it tracks the author’s 15-year relationship with his rambunctious German shepherd (the Alsatian bitch Queenie, renamed Tulip for the book).
Both man and dog had decidedly misanthropic dispositions. Ackerley was a rumpled, cranky, acutely meditative, and openly gay, man of letters who’d long ago given up finding the human companionship he felt so acutely missing in his life. So, as he wryly observes, “unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs.”
Tulip was an unruly canine that Ackerley rescued from dire circumstances, and, as we’re told in Christopher Plummer’s raspy voice-over narration, she was a force of nature destined to dominate her owner’s life with “constant, single-hearted, incorruptible, uncritical devotion, which is in the nature of dogs to offer.”
Set in a postwar London of double-decker buses, chugging trains and quaint shops, the tale is adapted, directed and animated with painterly grace (and a jumpy, angular, idiosyncratic style) by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger. The artists compiled nearly 60,000 hand-drawn and colored “paperless” illustrations using a computer program called TVPaint to create a fluid and lovely film that’s as sublime visually as it is verbally.
Ackerley’s words provide the sturdy spine of the story as they meander articulately from the profound to the absurd, as the author offers up pithy bits of social commentary, naked confession and bittersweet wonder – in between rounds of stooping to clean up the piles of poop and puddles of urine that Tulip generates.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 22333Oklahoma weather: Crews work to clear storm damage in Oklahoma City as the state braces for severe weather Sunday.
- 8521Oklahoma Severe Storm Updates
- 6853OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti won't amnesty Kendrick Perkins
- 6505OKC Thunder: Thunder trio praise fans before potential departures
- 5318Student shot dead during botched home invasion
- 5086Wild hogs continue to be a growing menace across Oklahoma
- 4091Oklahoma State football: Todd Monken thinks Wes Lunt should've stayed in Stillwater
- 3978Oklahoma medical examiner reports cause of deaths in Grand Lake boat crash
- 3546Four burning questions - Was the Thunder's season a failure?
- 3194Soaring gasoline prices hurt Oklahoma City area retailers
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients