Music Box Films // 2004 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 21st, 2012
On life's journey, true friends come when they are called.
This Japanese family film, follows the life story of a yellow Labrador Retriever named Quill, recruited as a guide dog for the blind. His career trajectory intersects with Watanabe, a grouchy blind man who is at first resistant to the thought of toting around a dog. But Quill's handler insists this would be for the best, and a near-intimate encounter with the business end of a bus ultimately convinces Watanabe to give the dog thing a try.
Surprising to no one, a guide dog does prove to be beneficial! Sure there are some hiccups along the way, like Quill leading Watanabe down a road and backing up traffic for miles, and Quill escaping his pen and running away, and...wait, maybe this wasn't a good idea after all.
Odd movie. While I am relieved to watch a Japanese film that didn't sport gigantic hamster businessmen or ghost rape, Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog still managed to perplex me. When I say this dog's entire life is examined, I mean it; we are literally seeing this dog go from suckling on his mom to -- SPOILER ALERT! -- shuffling off to the Big Kennel in the Sky.
It seems like overkill, really. Quill clocks in at 100 minutes and, while that isn't bloated by any stretch of the imagination, we're looking at a measured pace. Quill running away is as dramatic as things gets (until the end), with the rest of the footage detailing the minutiae of a man getting to know his dog. For example: Watanabe waits for Quill to notify him what snack to select from a vending machine, and the scene goes on for two minutes. Call me heartless or a dog-hater, but I found myself frequently dozing off.
And then we get to the finale. Again, observe this HEAVY DUTY SPOILER ALERT, for which parents should especially take note. The body count skyrockets in the final twenty minutes, with both Watanabe and Quill experiencing slow deaths. Quill's departure is especially jarring, as CGI us used to enhance his fatal collapse! So be warned, if you've got kids who love to read subtitles (no English dub) and are dog nuts; there's going to be some major water-works unleashed by the time credits roll.
A bare-bones DVD: standard definition 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 Surround (Japanese), and no extras.
Innocuous and sweet, but not much more.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Music Box Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated