Few things surprise me more in life than a hugely anticipated film that disappoints. Case in point: the beautifully rendered animation of J.R. Ackerley's slim memoir of unconditional love, "My Dog Tulip."
The pastel-soft, scratch-pad images by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, coupled with John Avarese's playful music score and Ackerley's modest narrative, were initially transporting for this lovelorn animal activist.
For its first 15 minutes or so, I was enchanted by the film's slender plotline about a lonely, solitary bachelor finding his perfect companion in a handsome Alsatian shepherd who he rather wittily names Tulip.
But the charm wears off when, almost inexplicably, the film becomes obsessed with the dog's bodily functions - her need to urninate and defecate and her owner's curious preoccupation with/involvement in Tulip's sex life. These references aren't occasional or merely scattered throughout the film; they are the film, dominating its second two-thirds.
Exacerbating matters is the interlude when Tulip gives birth to a litter and her owner, having given the situation absolutely no thought whatsoever, can't decide what to do with the puppies. Should he give them away? Should he drown them? He certainly can't keep them in his cramped flat. Suddenly, the wizened narrator (voiced by Christopher Plummer) seems less like an educated sophisticate than a moron. It makes sense now that this odd solopsist would be so lonely and have so few relationships.
I've no idea if this is the message that the talented filmmakers wanted to impart or even if it is possibly drawn from the source material itself.
What I do know is, it isn't good.