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Pudsey the Dog: The Movie

5/10

Stars: Jessica Hynes, Izzy Meikle-Small, Spike White, Malachy Knights, John Sessions, Luke Neal, Luke Tittensor, Wendy Nottingham

VOICES: David Walliams, Olivia Colman, Peter Serafinowicz, Dan Farrell

Director: Nick Moore

Nowadays it is a real problem to find a movie for kids that will (a) not incite adults to become pyromaniacs and set fire to the cinema or (b) have parents prosecuted for cruelty to children by exposing them to the movie in question or (c) find themselves being embarrassed in front of their offspring by bad language – the ‘F’ word and a variation on it are among the most child-friendly moments in ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’.

(Indeed, the only bad language you might hear might conceivably come from a youngster who was expecting a tad of filth, foul language or violence in exchange for his or her time).

This resolutely old-fashioned canine fable recalls the heyday of children’s cinema at a time when youngsters had yet to be transformed into seeming adults by television’s corn-infested cornucopia of movies and other programmes that young children would have failed to get in to see in cinemas.

The tall tale of the talented pooch Pudsey (created, ironically, by television and famed for winning ‘Britain’s Got Talent’) finds the London stray following in Lassie’s pawprints when he becomes part of a family of youngsters who have recently lost their father and move to a cute as a ‘Visit Britain’ tourist poster to recover from their bereavement.

There the kids - Izzy Meikle-Small, Spike White and Malachy Knights - and their mother Jessica Hynes settle down to rustic life, accompanied by a talking horse and a pig who believes he is a chicken and is desperate to lay an egg in an environment that’s as credible as a film poster while the dashing dog foils the efforts of pantomime-subtle villain John Sessions to take over the village.

It’s a competent enough 21st century take on the kind of movies the Children’s Film Foundation used to inflict on youngsters, sweet, sentimental and silly. In its defence, I cannot imagine that anyone involved in its making saw it as anything else and, on its strictly audience friendly, ‘who cares about critics’ level, it succeeds in entertaining its intended audience.

And, happily, David Walliams who voices Pudsey, is never seen. For my money, that’s definitely worth an extra star.

Alan Frank

UK 2014. UK Distributor: Vertigo Films. Colour.
87 minutes. not widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Jul 2014