Dusty & Me
Set during the summer of 1977 in a small community in Leeds, Betsan Morris Evans’s Dusty & Me is a heart-warming, feel-good family adventure that follows 18-year-old Derek (Luke Newberry) – aka “Dusty” – the “poncey” black sheep of a working-class family, whose life changes when an adorable greyhound named Slapper (really, that’s what they call her) quite literally runs into his life. Such a title might suggest that the “Me” would refer to the canine, implying that the narrative was presented from their perspective. Instead, the film is an uncomplicated family adventure about a boy and his dog, and not a particularly great one at that.
As far as family friendly comedies go, this one is as simple as they get: boy meets dog, boy meets girl, and by the end – with some detours along the way – everyone is together and happier than they were at the start. While this will inevitably make the movie accessible for the whole family as well as teaching basic lessons of acceptance to younger viewers, the presentation is too on the nose. Every other line of dialogue is exposition of events that have just happened or overly wholesome outpourings of emotion, which consequently boils the characters down to two-dimensional caricatures with no attributes beyond face value.
Even more irksome is that moments are never allowed to speak for themselves. There is a constant smothering of clichéd music designed to inform us about how we’re supposed to feel at every given second, which gives the feature the impression of being a made-for-TV movie rather than an independent film project.
Both of these elements, combined with an incredibly silly almost pantomime style of comedy, give Dusty & Me an overtly cartoonish appearance without the slightest hint of irony (but with lots of predictability), resulting in more groans than laughs. In spite of all of this, however, the vibrant colours and the dedication to just how wholesome the overall feel-good tone is can’t help but put a smirk on your face, particularly at the song and dance at the end – because of course it ends on a song.
As far as British indie films go, there are certainly funnier out there with a whole lot more creativity, but for anyone looking for a feel-good adventure to keep the family entertained on a rainy afternoon, they can’t go wrong with Dusty & Me.
Dusty & Me is released in select cinemas on 28th September 2018.
Watch the trailer for Dusty and Me here: