Happy endings are the mainstay of Hollywood, and when one is called for we get one whether it makes any sense or not. Miracle resurrections, limited shelf-life clones, spirits that smile as they depart — we’ve been handed the biggest loads of crap in the name of good cheer.
For the most part we nod and go along with it. It may not be believable, but the uplifting feeling is what we expect so we go along with it.
Unless it goes too far.
“Oh Heavenly Dog” sticks in my mind for one reason only: at the age of 9 it was the first happy ending I called bullshit on.
For you lucky souls unfamiliar with it, this film was a vehicle for the comedic duo of Chevy Chase and Benji. As most of us over 30 remember, Benji was a small dog who starred in several movies. Actually, a series of small dogs. Chevy Chase was played by an alien comedy troupe in a suit.
The premise of “Oh Heavenly Dog” is that a low-rent detective (Chase) is killed before his appointed time. As a consolation, he gets to return to Earth as an adult dog (Benji). He then spends the rest of the film failing to protect a young woman (Jane Seymour) from being killed.
Spoiler alert: she’s killed. Her consolation prize? She gets to be an adult cat! Dog and cat saunter down the street together. The end.
This is not a happy ending! Even coming back as babies would have been better. But no, being dropped into the bodies of street animals is what we get. They don’t even know how to hunt, fer crissakes! They’re in for a short, brutal life of hunger and disease. Thanks, movie!
Incidentally, I want to come back as a pampered house cat — well-fed, with lots of warm laps. And maybe a small dog to kick around.