Rating: 2/20 (Abbey: 12/20)
Plot: A mean businessman who owns a CD-ROM company in 2003 dies but is sent back to earth as a dog to do good things so that he can get into heaven.
You're probably going to think that I'm making this movie up in some desperate attempt to hit my 365 movie mark for the year. In fact, you're probably wondering to yourself why I spent the time making that poster up there instead of just watching and writing about a damn movie. That does look like a movie poster that I could throw together using Photoshop, doesn't it? The menu screen for this dvd (yes, this movie does exist) was just as crappy looking, and the title sequence looked like the director William Byron Hillman--a guy who does not deserve to be called by three names like that--must have told his niece, "Here's some paper and crayons. Draw me some pictures of dogs to use for the beginning of my movie." Hillman hasn't directed a movie since this one. He directed a movie about a miniature horse called The Adventures of Ragtime which is currently at a 3.8 on imdb.com, an action picture about a kickboxer saving his girlfriend called Ragin' Cajun which sits at a 4.0, Double Exposure which is rated a lofty 4.7, the even better (apparently) comedy The Man from Clover Grove which is a 4.9, and The Photographer from 1974 which is a 6.8. Quigley's at 2.4, and since the movies I just listed are in reverse order from his filmography, we can only assume that Hillman's movies are getting worse. I can't imagine a movie being worse than this movie that rips off the far-superior Shaggy Dog movies (Note: "Far-superior Shaggy Dog movies" is something I never imagined typing.) or any of the other bad-people-turning-into-animals movies, and that might be why Hollywood hasn't given him another shot.
This is all about Gary Busey. Gary Busey nearly died in a motorcycle accident in 1988. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and I imagine that had a lot to do with what is happening with him in this movie. Helmet advocates should use this entire movie as a way to get motorcyclists to wear helmets when they ride actually. Gary Busey talks about his accident in an interview I watched in the dvd special features. You can watch the interview on Youtube right here, and you should because it's one of the most beautiful things you'll see in your entire life. He talks about this movie, his near-death accident, and getting "cancer in me face." That's not a typo. He actually turns into a pirate and says "me face." And if you like to read stuff, here's an article about how Busey was sort of ticked off because the makers of this film got heaven all wrong. There were some angels, a couch, and a mirror. Busey argued that there were no mirrors in heaven.
Seriously, readers. If you're riding a motorcycle, please wear a helmet.
Anyway, congratulations Gary Busey because you just won yourself a Torgo Award. I'm sorry if that ruins the suspense for any of you waiting for my end-of-year blog awards blog post, but I couldn't help myself. I was afraid that once he turned into a dog, he wouldn't be in the movie. Thankfully, another bad actor (Oz Perkins) plays his guardian angel, and whenever Perkins is in the scene with the dog, it's Gary Busey kind-of acting like a dog. And it's so brilliant! This film inflicts quite a bit of pain on the viewer, but it's worth it to hear Gary Busey say such great lines like, "I hurt my leg. . .lifting my leg to pee. It's not easy being a dog." And Busey's response to a hug from Oz Perkins? Friends, this twitching limp-armed thing he does is real acting. There's also a scene where he talks about shaking himself dry before giving a demonstration. But the very best Gary Busey moment in this movie is when he says the bewildering line "I'd have a better time cleaning a short person's teeth" while scratching himself. I thought that maybe "cleaning a short person's teeth" was some idiom that I'd just never heard, and decided to Google it. "Cleaning a short person's teeth" only gave me six results, all of them about this movie. So what the hell happened to bring us the magic of "cleaning a short person's teeth" in Quigley? Was it written? Was it an example of what happens when you let guys who died after traumatic head injuries improvise lines? I've emailed the director, so maybe I'll find out soon enough.
There's a lot to love about this terrible movie. A stereotypical German janitor who actually says, "Doggy, where are your papers?" That's P.J. Ochlan who, in a movie where he's not overshadowed by what Gary Busey is doing, could have been in consideration for the Torgo Award. A dogcatcher with a skunk played by Kieran Mulroney (he's listed as "Dog Catcher Wally Sprigs" in the cast overview) is equally awful. There are some details that prove the writer of this (Hillman again) is likely some kind of Luddite or at least not very tech-literate. There's the whole CD-ROM company thing which made me wonder if this movie was actually made in the 80s, but making it worse is that Busey's company only had one copy of the CD-ROM. And later, Busey's brother, an amateur game-maker, screams, "He's got my game! Those are my only copies!" That game, by the way, was great. It involved skipping stones and a surprise party, and I'm pretty sure I played something with better graphics on the Atari 2600 when I was 10. The overacting kids love it though. Speaking of the kids, there's a scene where the dog saves the little girl's life that completely defies logic and has to be seen to be believed. And then there's another scene where the dog saves the girl's life. Actually, it's a looking-for-a-lost-little-girl montage, and the "Give Me One More Chance. . .Let Me Change My Fate" song that plays through it is probably the worst thing I've ever heard in my life. Notice that I didn't say "worst song in a movie" or anything like that. I mean it was probably the worst thing I've ever heard in my life.
I'll say this about Quigley: One of the biggest laughs I've had all year while watching movies came near the end of this, a scene that I reckon was supposed to be sad but wasn't because one of the kids had to say, "Yeah, now we've lost two doggies."