SPORTING DOG

The set-up is classic in its simplicity. Michæl Harrison owes $25,000 to the mob by the end of the day. If he doesn’t pay up in time, the debt balloons up to $200,000. Harrison and his infant daughter are playing frisbee in the park with their dog Tazi when the bookie, Mr. Shea, comes to collect. Shea offers a wager. If Tazi can catch the frisbee five times in succession, the debt will be discharged and Harrison will collect $100,000. If he misses, however, Harrison forfeits not only the money, but his daughter as well.
Gambling debts aren’t Harrison’s only problem. He’s embroiled in a custody dispute with his ex-wife and is scheduled to go to court the following Monday. That’s not gonna happen if Mr. Shea and his goons snap his legs, so Harrison reluctantly goes along with the bet, risking his own child on his mutt’s ability to snap his jaws around a flying plastic disc five times in a row.
Writer-director Peter Kelley, working from David Ballard’s story “Child Support,” has crafted a suspenseful short with a strong sense of local color (the film was shot on location in Somerville, Massachusettes), a finger-popping “Pink Panther”-style jazz score, and a “Twilight Zone” twist. Though the dialogue is a bit strained at times (lines like “I do not believe you will accumulate the remainder so quickly” don’t exactly roll off Mr. Shea’s tongue) the cast is convincingly authentic, particular Michæl Kevin Walker as Harrison and Stephen E. Stapinski as Mr. Shea. And you’ve gotta love a dog that can catch a frisbee in his mouth on cue.




Posted on April 27, 2000 in Reviews by
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