A Dog of Flanders

Bomb Rating: 

Where's that runaway thresher when you need it?

I suspect that if you took director Kevin Brodie's lips and attached them to the bark of any particular living tree, within about five seconds that tree would shrivel up and die like a Richard Simmons in an all-nude female strip joint. Brodie clearly has a thing for sap.

Imagine Barney as a white dwarf, and you get some idea for the melodramatic mass of "A Dog of Flanders." Virgin midgets could have been rimming me with their little midget tongues and I wouldn't have felt quite as violated as I felt after watching an orphan boy named Nello (Jeremy James Kissner/Jesse James) discover that he's truly loved. Oh, Nello, you're truly loved! The ending offers up the option of crying or urinating on oneself in moronic glee.

Brodie has such an overdeveloped sense of a nobility amongst the poor that I suspect his next film will be a new version of "Cinderella" starring an entire cast of crack whores. This guy just doesn't know when to stop. By the time Brodie hit Nello's near-death scene, where Nello commiserates with his dead relatives in all their glowing splendor, I was vomiting up parts of the Mystery Wednesday lunches I had consumed in grade school.

Literally, if you tried to write the worst, most melodramatic dialogue you could think of, you wouldn't be qualified to write for "A Dog of Flanders." There are actual moments where Nello's grandfather (Jack Warden) says, "I love you, Nello" and Nello says: "I love you, grandfather" and they hug. I think grandfather also says, "We may be poor, but we have each other" at least twice. Where's that runaway thresher when you need it? And there are enough references to God to make even born-again Christians hyperventilate. You know, God may love you, but kicking you out of your home into a blizzard after killing off all your relatives is a funny way of showing it.

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