When an orphaned dog and a fatherless schoolboy make eye contact on a busy street, both realize they were meant for each other. This remarkable early scene sets the tone for Benji, Brandon Campís charming remake of his fatherís (Joe Camp) popular 1974 film.
The casting of these two main characters, Benji and Carter, plays a key role in the success of this 2018 Netflix movie. Benji (the dogís real name) is scraggly but adorable and boasts extremely expressive eyes. No wonder this cute canine captivates us right away! And, as Carter, Gabriel Bateman almost matches Benji in the eyes department. Plus, Bateman makes Carter believable right from the beginning because of the clever way he tries to make Benji follow him home as well as the caring way he treats his darling little sister, Frankie (Darby Camp).
Of course, Benji wants to find where Carter and Frankie live! He follows Carterís Hansel and Gretel strategy as closely as he can despite the many obstacles in his way. Undaunted, Benji arrives at his destination. Yay!
But, not so fast, folks. The children live with their widowed mom (Kiele Sanchez), who works hard as an emergency medical worker. She refuses to let the children keep Benji. I know what youíre thinking. Poor kids -- and poor Benji.
What can he do? Heís just a dog.
But Benjiís smart; his mind's not fog.
He loves two kids and needs a home.
No longer will he have to roam.
So as we watch this fun movie,
we hope good things come to Benji.
We hate to see him come to harm,
for Benjiís filled with lots of charm.
The kids he loves are also great.
When villains come, we fear their fate.
How will Benji help save the day?
You know thatís something I canít say.
But dogs and kids canít be ignored.
See this film? Well, you wonít be bored.
The not-so-smart villains are played seriously by Angus Sampson (Winchester) and Will Rothhaar (Division 19). They come across just scary enough for youngsters but not frightening enough to give the kids bad dreams. However, these robbers have a ferocious Rottweiler that might be a problem for toddler viewers.
I must conclude with congratulations to Benji. Too bad thereís no Oscar for Best Animal Performance of the Year. Benji would win hands -- er paws -- down.
(Streaming on Neflix; not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about this film, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.