Dogs are hardly strangers to the movies, but how many actually steal scenes from their human counterparts? Here are five pooches who upstage high-paid humans and big-budget special effects to become the focus of the audience. All titles are available on DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming:
Boomer (Labrador Retriever) from Independence Day (1996)
One of the biggest clichés of big-budget action movies is a character running from an explosion in slow motion (which is absurd, because outrunning an explosion is impossible). Independence Day wasn’t immune to the convention, but it added a nice twist, as a dog named Boomer narrowly escaped such certain death in a tunnel. Despite the chaos dished out on humans in the movie, audiences cheered at the outcome of Boomer’s cliffhanger scene (as if there was any doubt he wouldn’t survive).
The Dog (Jack Russell Terrier) from The Artist (2011)
A fable about friendship and loyalty in Hollywood at the close of the silent-movie era, The Artist probably wouldn’t have been the same film if not for a Jack Russell Terrier named Uggie. Presented without a dialogue track, emotions are conveyed with gestures, subtleties, and expressions, and Uggie does a superb job of supplementing what his owner goes through during the film. Uggie also proves the mantra of man’s best friend: His owner’s ups and downs don’t matter to the pooch, as he remains loyal to his owner, and even saves his life at one point during the film.
Dug (Golden Retriever) from Up (2009)
One thinks of Pixar’s Oscar-winning movie Up, and the first thing that comes to mind is the dogs (if not, then the heartbreaking montage opener). Several computer-animated movies featured man’s best friend, but Up went above and beyond (pun intended) by allowing audiences to hear what they were actually — squirrel! — thinking via dog collars that gave a voice to their thoughts. The movie’s narrative was engaging enough; but once a Golden Retriever named Dug enters, he steals his every scene.
Meathead (Bulldog) from Sudden Impact (1983)
No actor upstages Clint Eastwood when he plays Dirty Harry — no one upstages Eastwood when he plays anybody. But in Sudden Impact, his fourth film as the notorious San Francisco detective, Clint met his match. Given to Harry as a “gift” from a friend, Meathead, a Bulldog, slobbered, farted, and peed his way into his reluctant owner’s heart. Don’t think Harry cares about the dog? When the pooch is roughed-up (offscreen) by some goons late in the film, Harry’s face takes on a frightening scowl — supplemented by a facial tic — as he breaks out the heavy artillery to deliver some heavy-duty payback.
Verdell (Brussels Griffon) from As Good as It Gets (1997)
Jack Nicholson earned his third Oscar for his portrayal of Melvin Udall, an acid-tongued, bigoted best-selling novelist who lives in his own world of superstition and rigid routine. His self-imposed tranquility is shattered when he’s forced to care for his neighbor’s small dog named Verdell. Nicholson’s scenes with the Brussels Griffon are a charmer, as the pooch is somehow able to help Udall lighten up and “want to be a better man.”
What movie dogs do you remember? Tell us in the comments blow: