Arquette, however, through the muck of this movie, is actually good as the hapless idiot. Sure, he's played the part before, but in a film like this, Arquette gets to be genuinely likable, especially in the face of the W.C. Fields edict (never work with dogs or children). Maybe it's his childish demeanor or puppy dog face that makes him fit right in, but he's one of the only bright spots of this film.
Otherwise, a dumb script (which wants to be a John Hughes movie so badly) cheats both Arquette and a fairly sweet story. In short, Arquette's Gordon has to look after his young neighbor (a cute, laid-back kid named Angus T. Jones) after the little guy's beautiful, overbearing mother is stuck trying to return home from a trip (horribly bad shades of Planes, Trains, & Automobiles). While Gordon and the boy get acquainted, they meet up with Agent 11, a sharp FBI dog on the run from unhappy mobsters -- including a slumming, unfunny Paul Sorvino.
Mob guys chase dog. Dog hangs with kid and even bigger kid. Mayhem ensues.
With such a thin, familiar plotline, you'd think the writers would get to it. Yet, it takes more than a half-hour for the two stories to collide. If this movie was made with kids in mind, director John Whitesell (helming his first feature) and company sure do try the youngsters' collective patience.
The action sequences play like Home Alone meets Baby's Day Out, as directed by a guy with no experience handling things like slapstick and moving cars. The scenes look stagy and awkward, and in the long run all the gags just seem kind of tame. Of course, the more static laughs run to flatulence and poop, but I guess that's pretty harmless (if not, uncreative) when it comes to entertaining kids.
And speaking of harmless, I never really got the feeling that this dog could cause too much trouble. In fact, the plot provides a backstory showing the serious pooch as a pup, being instructed to work and not have fun. So, as an adult, he doesn't fetch or play catch. He just sits there. Like this movie.
David Arquette should continue to head for more all-family comedies as a career angle, but as for this one -- you'll be longing for Turner and Hooch.
Baby's day out.
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Friday 2nd March 2001
Box Office USA: $32.5M
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Production compaines: Warner Bros Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 59
IMDB: 5.4 / 10
Director: John Whitesell
Producer: Robert Simonds
Starring: Michael Clarke Duncan as Murdoch, David Arquette as Gordon, Leslie Bibb as Stephanie, Joe Viterelli as Gino, Steve Schirripa as Arliss (as Steven R. Schirripa), Anthony Anderson as Benny, Paul Sorvino as Sonny Talia, Kim Hawthorne as Cassavettes (as Kim Hawthorne), Angus T. Jones as James