Well. That was . . . interesting.
So, the other night I’m looking at my list of things to do, and I realize, Crap. It’s almost February, and I’ve only watched one film off my 25 Must-See SF Movie list. So at 1:30 in the morning, I skim through my Netflix queue and look to see what’s available on instant. There’s Moon . . . Solaris . . . 2001: A Space Odyssey . . . in other words, a bunch of “the greats” that also look to be as depressing as Hell. I’m not in a “I-wanna-be-depressed” kind of mood right now, not even in a “I’m-depressed-but-it’s-a-good-kind-of depressed” mood. So I zoom right by all that tragic bullshit and click to watch A Boy And His Dog instead.
And I knew going in that this was supposed to be a fucked up movie, but . . . wow, I don’t even know quite where to begin.
1. So, a plot description: Vic (Don Johnson, hee) roams around a post-apocalyptic wasteland with his dog, Blood. They’re closer than your average Turner and Hooch because Vic and Blood can speak telepathically. They’re also close because they’ve managed to form a very symbiotic relationship over the years. Vic buys or steals food for Blood, and Blood helps find Vic women to rape. See? It’s charming.
2.) So, here’s the problem: A Boy and his Dog? Clearly, it’s more than a little offensive. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty damn funny, which makes it very hard for this geeky feminista to get all outraged about it. I mean, it’s one thing to not like a film because you found it distasteful, but it’s quite another thing to like a film, realize you shouldn’t, and then pretend that you were all upset about it.
Because I did kind of enjoy it, I think. There was awhile there, probably the first half hour, where I was like, Oh, I don’t know. This might get kind of excruciating . . . but by the end of the movie, I think I’d had a pretty good time. I don’t know. My feminist sensibilities and my amoral id are waging a war in my brain right now, and I’m hoping to come to some sort of peace agreement between the two as I work on this review.
You never know. It could happen.
3.) So, let’s see. The good . . . the good is the dog, Blood. Seriously, Blood is hysterical. He’s voiced by Tim McIntire, who has this great, folksy, old man voice, which makes every snarky thing he says just that much funnier. It’s like listening to Shadow from Homeward Bound, if Shadow was a sarcastic sonofabitch who liked to recite dirty limericks.
Blood totally makes the movie. I kind of want a dog like this of my own . . . you know, if I could train him to search for other things, things that do not include girls to rape. Maybe bargain priced DVDs or really scrumptious cookies. Reasonably priced top hats. Something like that.
4.) You find out pretty quickly that Vic is not exactly a lovable guy. Once I did, I found myself waiting for the second half of the film, where Vic ventures from his tried and true post-apocalyptic wasteland to a (supposedly) utopian subterranean society. (I won’t tell you all the details of why that takes place, just that he faces some peril Down Under, as one will do in a fictional utopian society. An honest utopia does not make for very good entertainment, although the Star Treks do their damnedest to defy this law of nature.)
I figured Vic would get his comeuppance Down Below, and when he did, I’d enjoy the hell out of it . . . but much to my surprise, my allegiances shifted during the second half of this film. None of the main characters (Vic, Blood, Quilla June—we’ll talk more about her in the Spoiler Section) is really a nice person, and none of them can really be called a victim. You’d think that’d make it a likable characters issue, and it might be for some people, but despite the fact that they’re all kind of selfish sociopaths (Vic and Quilla June in particular) I found them all pretty enjoyable to watch. That’s the thing about this movie. If you can get past the pretty abhorrent set-up (which I wouldn’t exactly blame you if you couldn’t) A Boy and his Dog is really a very morbidly funny, low budget science fiction film.
5.) A lot of elements in this movie are never really explained, for instance, what exactly the “screamers” are or how the telepathy between Blood and Vic actually works. A lot of that is fine (I was actually relieved when there wasn’t an overtly technical explanation for the telepathy) but there were a few times during the film when I wished things would slow down enough to give a little more exposition.
6.) Besides the humor, one of the other things that makes this film work is the relationship between Vic and Blood. Which is sort of a strange thing to say, since Vic seems to treat Blood like crap, and Blood is continuously making fun of Vic for being stupid because, well, he is . . . but they are very similar in a lot of ways, and it’s clear that they do care about one another. There’s this one scene where Blood tries to talk Vic out of going somewhere, and it’s surprisingly kind of emotional. I think I started voting for Vic when I realized just how much Blood needed him.
7.) Some quotes (pretty much all Blood’s, of course):
“You’re so funny when you’re sexually frustrated.”
“I detect no living female person with in my range, sir. I have sniffed, and I have cast, and I have a negative reading. However, I’d be delighted to tell you a suggestive story, if you think that would help.”
“Ugh, breeding is an ugly thing.”
“A cautious young fellow named Lodge / Had seatbelts installed in his Dodge. / When his date was strapped in / He committed a sin / Without even leaving the garage . . . that’s clever, isn’t it?”
(After Blood has been forced to hide out in the same room as two people who spend the entire time having lots and lots of sex.)
“Seems clear. I better go have a look.”
“You think you can handle it in your condition?”
“Can I handle it in my condition? Hmph. I can handle several hours on the rack to extricate myself from this disgusting display . . . no sacrifice is too great. No, I throw myself very gladly into the jaws of screaming death.”
There’s really a limited amount I can say about the film without going into spoilers. So, all I can really tell you is that, against my will, I found this movie entertaining and darkly amusing. I need a second viewing before I can say for sure, but overall, I kinda liked A Boy and his Dog.
I’m such a lousy feminist.
Okay, so the plot breaks down like this: Blood finds Quilla June hiding in an encampment. Vic goes to rape her, but they get to talking a little first (you know, as one does) and before he can do the dirty deed, other raiders come to try and rape Q.J. as well. Vic and Blood save her from them, and Blood gets hurt in the process. Q.J., grateful to still be alive, decides that she loves Vic with all her heart and that she wants to have sex with him. Repeatedly.
And if you’re thinking, Oh, Jesus Christ, REALLY . . . well, it turns out that Q.J. isn’t the nice, naive girl that she’s pretended to be. She actually lives Down Under (like, literally) and she’s setting a trap for Vic to follow her there as well. Vic does so because he’s an idiot, leaving an injured Blood up above on the surface. Of course, almost the second Vic descends, he gets his fool ass nabbed.
Turns out, the good folks of Down Under (a.k.a. Topeka) need Vic because they want to pump out all of his semen and help replenish their mostly barren, creepy little religious society. (Topeka is the kind of place where you’re executed after a few warnings for bad attitude, disregard for authority, general nonconformity, that kind of thing. See what I mean about utopia? It’s always the evil utopia. Never the good kind.) After they’ve pumped poor Vic dry, of course, the Committee plans to kill him. Cause, you know, why keep the dumb rapist anyway? What exactly is he going to contribute? It’s a hard case to argue.
Problem is, Q.J. is quite the ambitious little shit, and she only helped lure Vic there so that she could have a seat on the all powerful Committee herself; alas, that deal was bogus, which pisses Q.J. off. Thankfully, she happens to have the leader of some rebellious teenage gang wrapped around her finger, so they all break Vic out. Q.J. wants Vic to kill all of the Committee leaders for her, but Vic just wants to escape from this crazy ass place and get back to Blood. Q.J. is forced to go with him after the Committee (led by her father) orders her own death sentence.
When they escape, Vic finds Blood near death—he’s been unable to get food, so he’s been starving this whole time. Q.J. tells Vic it’s too late and starts spinning her usual “I love you” bullshit that she pulls out whenever she needs something. Vic looks at her, and I swear, as I watched Don Johnson, I could read the decision in his face—but I still thought, Nah, they won’t go that route. That would be too awesome.
But they do go that route. When we fade into the next morning, Blood is seemingly much better after eating a hearty breakfast; Vic isn’t eating at all; and Q.J. is nowhere to be seen . . .
Yes, my friends. QJ is barbecue. Vic actually killed QJ so that Blood could eat her. If that’s not a true sign of friendship, I don’t know what is.
These are the last lines in the movie:
VIC: She said she loved me. Well, hell, it wasn’t my fault she picked me to get all wet-brained over.
BLOOD: Well, I’d certainly say she had marvelous judgment, Albert, if not particularly good taste. (Starts cracking up.)
Murder and cannibalism, baby! Love love love.
I think there are a few things that make this movie work for me:
1.) The humor. I laughed pretty hard at this film, and that’s always a good sign.
2.) Blood’s entire character. Blood is awesome.
3.) The fact that Quilla June isn’t a victim. Well, of cannibalism. Yes. Q.J. did become puppy chow. But while Vic wants to screw her (literally), she wants to screw him (figuratively) by luring him to his death for a place of power. Either way, they’re both assholes. And, actually, I kind of like Quilla June, in a way. She’s that scheming, pretty girl who uses men without compassion to get what she wants. Her ambition makes her interesting . . . but it also makes her grisly death just that much more fitting. I have no sympathy for her, and you’re not supposed to. For that matter, if Q.J. had murdered Vic, I wouldn’t have had much sympathy for him, either . . . except for Blood. I would have felt sorry for Blood.
4.) The fact that we never actually see Vic rape anyone. It was a very smart decision, and a necessary one.
5.) That end. Seriously. I laughed so hard at the end. I love that Vic chooses Blood over Q.J. and all the sex that he could have had. I love that Vic’s apparently stupid enough to believe that Q.J. loved him. I love Blood’s last line. I just loved, loved, loved it.
Amoral Id: One
Feminist Sensibilities: Zero.
SUPER Tentative Grade: B
Moral of the Story:
I didn’t know quite how to feel
about a film so bizarrely surreal
but lessons were learned:
the best friendships are earned,
and a human makes the very best meal.