Hey, kids! Wanna watch the same doggy die four times? It started so adorably, what with lovable ol’ Bailey devouring the cucumbers that cover the eyes of his girl’s (Kathryn Prescott) tanned-and-tippling single mother (Betty Gilpin). After Pooch #1 hightails it to that big fireplug in the sky, and the characters mature to the point adult actors can assume the roles, the multiple-reincarnation fantasy kicks into overdrive. Other than acting as a catalyst to sniff out plot coincidence, this dog’s purpose is to challenge parents to explain to their tykes on the drive home the contextual implications of alcoholism, cancer, and what exactly was in the baggie that changed hands at the party. And why does the dog continue to speak in a male voice (Josh Gad) even when passing through life with female anatomy? Specializing in television for going on three decades, this is Gail Mancuso’s (Roseanne, 30 Rock) first whack at a theatrical feature. Fan of canine cinema that I am, this morbid mashup of Old Yeller and Groundhog Day left me feeling put down. With: Dennis Quaid and Marg Helgenberger. (2019) — Scott Marks
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