With inept directing and editing and an incoherent script, this film utterly wastes any chance to create a charming little movie around the winner of 2012's Britain's Got Talent competition. Among a multitude of filmmaking sins, director Nick Moore (Horrid Henry: The Movie) never even lets the scruffy-cute dog Pudsey strut his stuff, limiting him to one rather dull trick. And the choppy way the film is assembled makes the audience wonder if the A-listers in the cast were working from the same script.
After being kicked off the set of a period-style movie, Pudsey (voiced by Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams) wanders into London and meets three kids: surly teen Molly (Miekle-Small), her bratty little brother George (Spike White) and their younger sibling Tommy (Malachy Knights), who hasn't said a word since their dad moved out. Their mum Gail (Jessica Hynes) is holding things together best she can, and is just about to move them to the remote village of Chuffington for a fresh start. But Pudsey stows away in their stuff, immediately causing trouble with their new landlord Thorne (John Sessions), who despises dogs. Soon, Jessica and Molly start flirting shamelessly with the nearby hunky farmer Jack (Luke Neal) and his fit teen farmhand Will (Luke Tittensor), while Pudsey snoops around, discovering Thorne's nefarious plan to level Jack's farm to build a huge shopping mall.
Screenwriter Paul Rose tries to include every conceivable British movie cliche, from a village fete to a random moment of adventure when Tommy falls into a well (where's Lassie when we need her?). At least the cinematography is pretty, even if director Moore seems more interested in repulsive jokes involving a pig who thinks he's a chicken laying eggs. There are also some startlingly grown-up gags involving surprisingly rude innuendo for a movie that's otherwise aimed at very young children. But most of the script's jokes never make it to a punchline, and plot threads start and stop with no warning at all. The worst diversion is when Pudsey is incarcerated in a kind of doggy Auschwitz outside the village, then leads a lame Great Escape after a bit of mind-numbing rapping.
The most tragic thing about this film is that Pudsey could actually be a rather endearing movie hero, in the style of Benji. Writing a decent script doesn't cost any more than writing a rubbish one, but the producers obviously scrimped everywhere, then tried to salvage the mess with some brutal editing. As a result, they've not only killed off any potential franchise, but they might have also destroyed Pudsey and his trainer Ashleigh Butler's career for good. Because aside from a cute dog, there's nothing to see here.
Run time: 87 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th July 2014
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
IMDB: 2.0 / 10
Director: Nick Moore
Screenwriter: Paul Rose