July 7, 2002 -- "K-9: P.I." is a direct-to-video descendent of the 1989 film "K-9," starring Jim Belushi as a cop teamed with a German shepherd police dog. It is the third film in the series, following "K-911." It is a cute movie, appealing mostly to kids and dog lovers. This is a review of an advance copy of the DVD which will be released on July 30.
In this episode, 13 years after the original, detective Tom Dooley (James Belushi of "Joe Somebody") and his police dog partner, Jerry Lee (played by King, the third dog to play this role in the series) have retired. The dog, of course, doesn't know he's retired and when he spots a burglary in progress he gets Dooley mixed up in a mess. Dooley, who has just finished sleeping one off after his retirement party, blearily follows the dog into a high-tech computer facility where the armed robbers are surprised. A gun battle ensues and one of the robbers gets away, the other is killed.
When the police arrive, they arrest Dooley as a suspect in the robbery. He is finally released, but his pension is frozen. He has to put Jerry Lee out to stud and start working as private investigator to make ends meet. Dooley's pension won't be released to him until the feds close the case on the robbery. It looks like Dooley will have to solve the case himself in order to get his pension back and clear his name.
The plot and characters are standard issue. The story holds no surprises since it uses a number of film clichés. Belushi wears this role like a comfortable old coat. Gary Basaraba of "Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle" plays Dooley's cop friend, Pete, Kim Huffman of "Sleeping With Strangers" plays Dooley's mysterious client, Laura. Barbara Tyson of "Final Destination" plays Dooley's girlfriend, Catherine. Blu Mankuma of "Another Stakeout" plays police Captain Thomas. True to cliché, Thomas has a perpetually sour disposition. There are a number of cute scenes with the dog doing clever and funny things. This is a lot like those Disney films with the cute animals. The film is directed by Richard J. Lewis ("C.S.I." TV show).
The movie could have used some more editing (it runs 95 minutes). I was tempted to fast forward at times. Some of the gags didn't work and the climax was beyond belief, but mostly, it was an amusing show, strictly for dogs and kids. There is some violence. One man is shot and several dead bodies are shown with some blood. There are some sexually suggestive situations. There was also some of the usual tasteless body function humor jokes. By today's standards it is pretty mild stuff, though. This movie rates a C. The DVD is pretty bare bones, there's a featurette on the making of the film (which includes some scenes from the original film), cast and filmmaker biographies, the theatrical trailer. The movie is in letterbox format with a choice of English 5.1 Dolby (TM) or 5.1 DTS sound tracks. There are also English, Spanish and French subtitles available. There are 18 scene selections, the last being the closing credits. The picture quality seemed good on the DVD.
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