Dogs are man’s (and woman’s!) best friend. They stick by us through thick and thin, always with feelings of love and joy in their hearts. A lot of films featuring our canine compatriots have been released over the years. This top 10 will list the top 10 dog movies.
10. K-9 − 1989
James Belushi was on top of his game in the late 80s. After getting his big break on American comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live, he played prominent roles in a number of 80s classics including ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ and ‘Red Heat’. 1989’s ‘K-9’ saw Belushi starring in a canine take on the buddy cop movie. Belushi played Dooley, a down on his luck detective struggling to make his way in the San Diego police department. After being tagged for execution by a murderous drug lord, Dooley finds himself teaming up with ‘Jerry Lee’, an incredibly smart canine police officer, to hunt down the drug lord and save himself from certain death.
K-9, directed by Rod Daniel, cemented Belushi’s place in Hollywood as a star. The action comedy was fun, amusing, and featured great chemistry between Belushi and his four legged co-star. While K-9 was generally panned by critics who scored it 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, audiences, in general, enjoyed the movie and saw it in big numbers. The film is currently rated a 5.9/10 on imdb.com.
9. Benji – 1974
Writer, director, producer, and actor ‘Joe Camp’ is a huge dog lover. Born in Missouri in the USA, the multi-talented Hollywood artist has lived around dogs his entire life. It’s no surprise, then, that Camp devoted his Hollywood career to creating films about dogs. While his first attempts floundered, Camp finally found his stride with the release of 1974’s ‘Benji’.
Benji told the story of a small mixed breed stray dog called Benji. The film followed Benji as he befriended the residents of a small Texas town and helped save a pair of children from certain doom.
Benji was written, directed, and produced by Camp on a barebones budget of $500,000. The film went on to gross an astronomically high $45,000,000. The film was also well reviewed by critics who scored it an impressive 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Camp devoted the rest of his Hollywood career to the Benji franchise, eventually writing and releasing 9 films in the long running series. The last film in the series – Benji: Off the Leash! – was released in 2004. There are no plans for any more Benji movies.
8. 101 Dalmatians – 1996
In 1956, novelist Dodie Smith released her second novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, in the UK. The novel told the story of a pair of dalmatians – Pongo and Missus Pongo – who get kidnapped by the evil Cruella de Vil, a London heiress with a dislike for dogs and a love of furry fashion. The novel was a huge success around the world, and Disney decided to adapt it as an animated feature film. Disney’s film hit cinema screens in 1961 and was one of the biggest films of the year.
In 1996, Disney decided to adapt and reinvent the 101 Dalmatians story in a live action format. Glenn Close stepped in to play Cruella de Vil, while Jeff Bridges and Joely Richardson played the owners of the two dalmatian stars of the movie, Pongo and Perdy. 101 Dalmatians was impressively faithful to its source material. Close was perfect as Cruella de Vil, while Bridges and Richardson did an excellent job as the two main human protagonists.
While the film received mixed reviews from critics who scored it 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was loved by audiences and children everywhere. The film eventually went on to gross an impressive $320,689,294 at the box office, making it one of the most popular and successful films of 1996.
7. Beethoven – 1992
St. Bernards are one of the biggest dog breeds around. At their biggest, they can reach weights as high as 120kg.
1992’s ‘Beethoven’ told the story of Beethoven, a runaway St. Bernard dog who gets adopted by a family called the ‘Newton’s. The film followed Beethoven as he grew from a puppy to a full sized trouble causing adult dog.
Beethoven was secretly written by filmmaker John Hughes – writer/director of ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Home Alone’, ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’, and many more – under the pseudonym Edmond Dantès. Wanting to escape the limelight following his massive success in the 80s, Hughes wrote the film in secret with co-writer Amy Holden Jones and director Brian Levant.
Beethoven was a fun filled family friendly comedy film. The film featured great performances from its cast – Stanley Tucci, Charles Grodin, and Bonnie Hunt, to name just a few – and great direction from director Levant.
While the film fared poorly with critics who scored it 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, it was hugely popular with audiences who made it one of the most popular films of 1992. Beethoven spawned six sequels. The last, Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, was released in 2011. No further sequels are planned at the moment.
6. Lady and the Tramp – 1955
Disney were a force to reckon with in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Following the release of 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the animation studio achieved huge success with nearly all of the films in its ‘Walt Disney Animated Classics’ series. Lady and the Tramp is the 15th movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It is generally considered to be one of Disney’s best.
Released in 1955, the film told the story of a female cocker spaniel called Lady and a mutt called Tramp. The film followed Lady, a well looked after upper class dog, as she fell in love with Tramp, a down on his luck stray.
Lady and the Tramp was a huge success with critics who scored it 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was a similar success with audiences who raved about it, too. The film is currently rated at 7.4/10 on imdb.com.
5. Homeward Bound : The Incredible Journey – 1993
‘The Incredible Journey’ was one of the most successful films of 1963. Produced by Disney, the film, based on the novel of the same name by Sheila Burnford, followed the adventure of a trio of pets as they journeyed across Northern Canada to get back to their owners.
1993’s ‘Homeward Bound : The Incredible Journey’ was a remake of The Incredible Journey. While the film featured a different cast of pets, it followed a similar story to its predecessor with the film focusing on three pets trying to get back to their owners in San Francisco.
Homeward Bound featured an all star voice cast of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Michael J. Fox, fresh off his success in ‘Family Ties’ and ‘Back to the Future’, voiced Chance, an American bulldog, while Don Ameche and Sally Field voiced his two friends, Shadow, a golden retriever, and Sassy, a himalayan cat.
Critics loved Homeward Bound, scoring it 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences enjoyed it too. The film is currently rated 6.9/10 on imdb.com.
4. Turner and Hooch – 1989
Tom Hanks was a rising star in the late 80s. After breaking out in ‘Splash’, he cemented his reputation as one of Hollywood’s finest in ‘Big’, ‘The Burbs’, and ‘Joe and the Volcano’.
Hanks also starred in 1989’s ‘Turner and Hooch’, a buddy cop movie that saw Hanks playing Turner, a police detective, who finds himself teaming up with Hooch, a Dogue de Bordeaux dog, to solve a murder.
Turner and Hooch was one of the biggest hits of the summer of 1989. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode and written by Dennis Shryack, the film featured great action and lots of laughs. Hanks delivered a great performance as Turner too, while Beasley the Dog, his partner in crime, was great as the loveable Hooch.
Turner and Hooch fared decently well with critics who scored it 62% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences, on the whole, enjoyed the film too. It is currently sitting on a 5.9/10 rating on imdb.com.
3. Eight Below – 2006
2001’s ‘The Fast and the Furious’ made Paul Walker’s career. Overnight, the actor went from being an unknown to being at the top of the Hollywood hot list. Walker stuck to the franchise over the years, starring in no fewer than 6 ‘Fast and the Furious’ films, before his untimely demise in a car accident in early 2014.
Walker also starred in a number of popular movies outside of the Fast the Furious franchise, including 2006’s ‘Eight Below’.
Eight Below saw Walker playing Jerry Shepard, a guide working at an Antarctic scientific research base. The film followed Shepard as he risked life and limb battling the Antarctic cold in an effort to get home with his group of twelve husky dogs.
Writer David DiGillio delivered an excellent screenplay for Eight Below, while director Frank Marshall did a fantastic job bringing out the beauty of Antarctica’s snow plains. Walker delivered one of his all time best performances for the film too, while supporting actors Bruce Greenwood, Moon Bloodgood, and Jason Biggs also delivered great performances.
Eight Below was well received by critics who scored it 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was also a hit with audiences who enjoyed it greatly. The film is currently rated at 7.3/10 on imdb.com.
2. Marley & Me – 2008
‘Marley & Me’, released in 2008, is a real tearjerker. Starring Owen Wilson as John Grogan and Jennifer Aniston as Jenny Grogan, a newlywed couple, the film followed the Grogans as they adjusted to married life in their new home with their new puppy, Marley.
Director David Frankel did an excellent job for Marley & Me. His understated direction was perfect for the film and he did a fantastic job getting great performances from Wilson, Aniston, and the many labrador actors who played Marley throughout the film.
Marley & Me was a moderate hit with critics who reviewed it 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was a bigger hit with audiences, however, who fell in love with Marley and his owners. The film went on to gross more than $242,717,113 on the worldwide box office, making it one of the biggest hits of 2008. It is currently rated at 7.1/10 on imdb.com.
1. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale – 2009
Actor Richard Gere has aged gracefully throughout his career. While the actor was often cast as a heartthrob early in his career, now in his 60s, he’s often cast as more mature, more refined characters, a role he excels in.
2009’s ‘Hachi: A Dog’s Tale’ features one of Gere’s best performances. The film saw him playing Parker Wilson, a professor who befriends a stray akita puppy that he names Hachikō. The film followed Wilson and Hachikō as their friendship grew over the next decade.
Based on a true story, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale was heartwarming from beginning to end. Director Lasse Hallström did an excellent job for the film while screenwriter Stephen P. Lindsey wrote a great script.
While Hachi: A Dog’s Tale received moderately decent reviews from critics who scored it 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, it fared better with audiences who loved the film. The film is currently rated an impressive 8.2/10 on imdb and is generally considered the best dog movie ever made.