The comedian WC Fields said “never work with children or animals”. So when you’re working with talking animals, you should really know what you’re doing. The Look Who’s Talking films made babies and animals talk and the success of these can be attributed to a number of things, but one of the most significant aspects was the fact that new-born and four-legged characters were relied on to tell the story, not drive it.
Set in Los Angeles, Gabe: The Cupid Dog revolves around a talkative pooch who is distraught at the prospect of spending six months in quarantine while his owner Eric (irritatingly referred to as “dad” throughout the film), transfers to London to further his career. Consequently, the cunning canine devises a plot to get Eric to stay in LA by making him fall in love with an all-American girl, who cannot relocate to London due to the convenient fact that she has two children. As if this weren’t trite enough, Gabe is helped along the way by Lana, a television love guru of sorts.
The film is saved from half-star status by its leading pair, Brian Krause and Boti Bliss. Although they do not have much chemistry, their performances are fairly decent given the bland characters, as well as the sappy romance and lame humour they are forced to deliver. If you can suspend your disbelief and believe in a talking dog who is adept at working a TV remote, while accepting the fact that Eric can and will take his dog everywhere (except London), then you will find that the banal story at least holds together pretty well.
Bright, happy shots of sunny California interspersed with tired British clichés remind Eric of what he will be leaving behind. All this is accompanied by a soundtrack which at times sounds like it belongs on a theme park ride and at others as if it was borrowed from a tween chic flick. While the abrupt editing and latent misogyny will frustrate the more discerning viewer, its lack of action and abundance of complacent furry friends will bore kids and insult animal-lovers.