Dogs With Non-Lead Movie Roles
There are a lot of great dog characters in film. Benji, Scooby Doo, RinTinTin, Winn-Dixie, Toto, and Old Yeller rank up there with other canines who can claim to have been cast in a starring movie role, and their names are in most cases more familiar to us than the names of their human counterparts. But what about the dogs cast in the all-important supporting roles? Many times an otherwise boring movie is more funny with the presence of dogs in non-leading roles. Here are three of my favorites, in alphabetical order:
One of my favorite movies is "You've Got Mail" starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. These two have a special on-screen chemistry that draws me right in. More than "Sleepless in Seattle" or "Joe Versus the Volcano" this movie has me from the very start. Part of it is my love of bookstores. Part of it is the allure of meeting an attractive stranger in an anonymous setting then finding out it was your best friend the whole time. But most of it because of the dog in a non-leading role, Brinkley, the golden retriever!
As Tom Hanks' character explains, Brinkley loves the streets of NYC almost as much as he does. The difference is that Brinkley eats bits of bagel and pizza found on the sidewalk, while Tom Hanks' character prefers to buy them from the sidewalk vendors. He also jokes that Brinkley is such a great catcher that he was offered a spot on the Mets, but turned it down. If you've ever seen a golden retriever play catch, you wouldn't doubt this for a minute.
Wendy, John, and Michael Darling were quite lucky to have such a faithful family friend like Nana to look after them. As far as dogs in non-leading roles go, whatever the circumstances Nana was extremely patient, always dutiful, and never cross. Although some children might be intimidated by her massive size (past films portrayed her as either as Newfoundland or a Saint Bernard) neither the children nor Peter had anything to fear from this gentle giant. Even Disney's animated version of the film fails to give Nana speaking lines, but despite this fact her opinions are loud and clear throughout the movie. As a child growing up with no family pet any larger than a small hound, I envied the Darlings for having such a wonderful canine companion. Like other dogs in non-leading roles, she had quite an impact on the audience. I mean c'mon...Nana picked up all the clothes and toys, while our family pets wouldn't even follow basic commands.
Corpse Bride would have a very different ending without the presence of Scraps, Victor's pet dog. Well, the dog he had as a child. Scraps is by far one of my favorite dogs in non-leading roles ever. Sadly, as with most childhood pets, poor Scraps expired before Victor reached adulthood. But when Victor visits the Land of the Dead he gets a wonderful reunion with his beloved canine! Victor still has a painting of himself as a child with Scraps in his bedroom, so the reunion is kind of a huge deal. Despite the fact that Scraps is little more than bare bones, he retains the same red collar he wears wearing in the painting. And despite being dead, Scraps is loyal as ever, helping save Victor's leading lady at the end of the movie by biting the villain's leg forcing him to release her.
Even if their appearance in a full-length feature film totals a two second cameo, dogs in non-leading roles make the film that much better. I really love dogs, and can't imagine life without them - so why would they be left out of movies? Dogs in non-leading roles add a touch of whimsy to serious moments, bring otherwise opposite personalities together in romantic comedies, and save the day when even the littlest things go wrong.
Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear all about your favorite dogs in non-leading roles (or really, ANY dogs) in the comments below!