Please feel sorry for me, because I watched "A Dogwalker's Christmas Tale"
This one's not even for the "Mean Girls" superfans.
I’ve had a fun time watching and reviewing these movies so far. I love the so-bad-it’s-good genre and have been delighted to hear friends’ feedback on which terrible Christmas flicks they’ve been watching. It’s been a great experience all around! And then I suffered through A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale.
I knew this one would be bad going into it, because look at that title. That’s supposed to be some kind of pun on “tail” that doesn’t work at all. Allow me to suggest some alternates that would better suit the film:
- Woof: This Christmas Movie is Pretty Ruff
- A Doggone Awful Movie
- Christmas, Doggy-Style
Neither of those photoshopped dogs even appear in the movie!
I’d originally planned a double bill with the new Lifetime movie Christmas Unleashed, in which Vanessa Lachey plays a woman whose dog runs away on Christmas Eve and she needs help from her ex to find him, and then they presumably fall back in love. Two dog-themed Christmas romances, see? It was a good idea in theory, and it wasn’t until after I watched what is certainly the worse of the two that I learned that Christmas Unleashed had not yet premiered and would not be available on streaming anytime soon. So I watched this trash for nothing!
Oh, I had a bad time. A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the $5 million production of Holiday in Handcuffs, which is to say that I would believe you if you told me that the actors were paid $15 each and had to supply their own costumes and houses. I originally thought that this looked like a student film, but then I watched Santa Girl, which essentially was a student film, and it was far superior in every way to this garbage.
Mercifully, the plot here is a lot more straightforward than that of anything else I’ve watched so far, but that also makes watching it even more of a slog. The story centers on Luce (yeah, her name is Luce, I don’t know what to tell you), and she’s a college student who loves Christmas almost as much as she loves spending money. She wakes up every morning and screams a countdown like “FIVE DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!” so you hate her character right from the jump. She maxes out her parents’ credit card buying an expensive watch for her boyfriend and shows up for a coffee date ready to exchange presents and take him home to meet her family for the holidays. The boyfriend (played by an actor at least ten years too old for the part) is all “we never said we’re exchanging presents? or meeting each other’s families? or dating? this is not serious and I don’t want this and I’m going to spend time with my own family? let’s never see each other again.”
We have all been there, when you forget to communicate anything to your partner or even establish if you are indeed partners, am I right, ladies?! Luce worries that this ex-not-boyfriend, a philosophy minor, didn’t like her because she lacks “substance,” a theme that will come up about thirty times in the movie because that’s the character’s motivation and don’t you forget it. Luce lacks substance. All she has going for her is her fashion sense, and all she and her friends care about are their fancy designer clothes. Just look at these spoiled socialites!
An actual costume designer actually worked on this movie, so I don’t know what happened here. Keep in mind that this was filmed in 2015 and not 2007, as you’re probably assuming. Characters specifically reference Luce’s “designer clothes” and gesture to her like she’s a princess when she’s wearing, like, a J. Crew coat over a Talbot’s sweater.
Anyway, Luce gets offered a dogwalking job and takes it because she really wants the cash to buy an ugly necklace so she and her friends can have ugly matching necklaces. She takes the dog down to the dog park, where she meets a cast of (supposedly) lovable characters who are bummed out that the dog park is about to be torn down to build a day spa. Oh no! But guess what! Luce’s new employer is the one in charge of building the day spa! Can Luce learn to put what really matters — dogs and people who like them — over silly concerns like buying necklaces, therefore gaining some “substance?” Will she fall in love with a cute dogwalker named Dean while she’s at it? Yeah, duh, of course. This is a boring movie, produced badly.
Everything about it is bad, starting with the acting. You may recognize our romantic lead as the man who played Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, and I’ll give him credit where it’s due: he certainly has very white teeth. I can’t say much about his acting other than that he does the best he can with this material, an utterly mediocre script with limp dialogue and a by-the-numbers plot. The actress playing Luce is completely out of her depths. She has the energy and skill set of a quirky babysitter on a Disney Channel show, not a leading lady.
The production quality is just terrible. The outside locations are all ugly, with dead grass everywhere, even in the much-ballyhooed dog park. Every interior shot was clearly filmed in a model home. The lighting is consistently bad. It’s just not cheerful or cozy or pretty, so there’s nothing to distract you from the fact that you’re watching a bad movie.
So few actors were hired for this movie that the outside shots often have an eerie quality, with principal characters wandering utterly deserted parking lots and shopping centers. There is one (1) actor of color in the movie, a black woman whose thing is that she’s angry and threatening. You can quite plainly see that the actors hold treats in their hands to get the dog-actors to interact with them. The Empty Coffee Cup Acting is egregious. (Look at the other couple in the coffee shop exterior scene in the trailer to see a bit of what I mean.)
Even the prop work is shoddy — at one point, Luce and Dean sit down to watch a movie with a RIDICULOUS snack on the coffee table. Whose job was it to pick a normal snack for two people to share after a meal of grilled cheese sandwiches, and what motivated them to assemble a mixing bowl filled with twelve (12) visible scoops of ice cream and an entire can of whipped cream? If you had to choose a ludicrous snack for a scene, why would you pick a food that melts? Is this a prop from another production, some fake ice cream that they built from foam for a movie about kids making dinner for themselves?
No need to stop there! Let’s keep asking questions! Why is this a movie? Why? Who is responsible for this film?
Well, the production company is called G It’s Entertainment!, for starters.
They’ve produced such cinematic masterpieces as Accidentally Engaged, Bloody Homecoming, Honeymoon from Hell, and All Hallow’s Eve, which is not a noteworthy title on its own until you realize that the protagonist of that movie is named “Eve Hallow.” My favorite film premise of theirs has to be for the awkwardly titled Pride and Prejudice, Cut about a pair of actors filming an Austen adaptation: “Sparks start to fly when Mr Darcy is cast with a classically trained British actor, Liam Walker, who discovers that he is playing opposite Kate, who is an American internet star. Kate struggles with the British accent as a modern Pride and Prejudice story unfolds.” The conflict is that she can’t get her accent down? Riveting stuff!
(Note: I cannot take the time to tear apart all the copy writing on their website, as I am trying to focus here, but TRUST ME WHEN I SAY THAT I AM AWARE that the sloppy first sentence up there should be “Sparks start to fly when classically trained British actor Liam Walker is cast as Mr. Darcy and discovers that he is playing opposite Kate, an American internet star.”
What the hell is this company? Here is the (equally badly written) mission statement from their website:
G It’s Entertainment LLC was started in October of 2013. The producers of DAVED Productions LLC had started to produce films and develop relationships with very talented crew. They decided to collaborate and start a new production company that would be focused on producing family focused films. They hope to produce films that are entertaining with a positive message. The budgets are not big but the producers and artists on these films are worth their weight in gold because they all share a love for making films. Independent filmmaking is our business and it’s definitely not about the money, it is about producing a wonderful story that comes to life! They have been blessed to work with some amazing distributors and developed relationships with talented artists who put a little piece of themselves in every film produced. G It’s Entertainment LLC hopes to make someone’s day better by watching one of our films! We work with a lot of artists from Los Angeles but our company is based in South Carolina.
The bio of the first producer listed states that she “is originally from the Akron, Ohio area. She is not only a producer, but an anesthesiologist with a specialty in pain management.” So. That’s what we’re working with. Who will manage my pain now that I’ve watched this movie, though?
I’m trying not to include anyone’s names here because I don’t want any of the people at G It’s Entertainment! to get a Google Alert for their names and feel bad. They are not doing a good job, but who am I to tell an anesthesiologist how to produce a motion picture? I will note, however, that the lead actress of this and almost every one of their films has a last name beginning with the letter G, and two of her family members each appear in several as well. G That’s Suspicious!
So… yeah, this is a movie for the G family and perhaps no one else. Watching it is a bad idea and you have only yourself to blame if you go through with it, much like the experience, I would imagine, of inhaling a small mountain of dairy products with your paramour.
Was this movie terrible or amazing? Solidly terrible.
Was this movie romantic? Absolutely not.
Do I recommend this movie? Please do literally anything else with your time.