Friday, June 12, 2020

Into the Dark: Good Boy

Maggie is rather mousy and under-assertive, but she is still probably pushing credulity claiming her newly adopted dog is a legit “emotional support animal.” Reuben looks like a cute little guy, but there is an awful lot of fight in this dog—too much. Ally Sheedy’s character in Man’s Best Friend could definitely relate to what Maggie will go through, but the characterization and dialogue is much sharper in Tyler MacIntyre’s Good Boy, which premieres today, to commemorate National Dog Day or Pet Appreciation Week or whatever, as part of the current season of Hulu’s Blumhouse-produced Into the Dark.

Maggie’s neighborhood newspaper employer just switched over to an online-freelance model and her landlord effectively raised the rent with new fees. These developments come at an especially bad time, since she is just started preparing for an egg harvesting procedure. She adopted Reuben hoping he would alleviate her stress. It is a responsibility he takes deadly seriously.

Although we never see the entire transformation, it seems furry Reuben is a bit like the Incredible Hulk. You do not want to make him angry. Several people who have been bugging Maggie will lean that the hard way—permanently. Unfortunately, Reuben might also be getting a little jealous of her new boyfriend Nate, who also happens to be a cop.

Surprisingly for a Blumhouse joint, MacIntye keeps most of the gore off-screen. Instead, he keeps us focused on the characters and the sly humor. The Into the Dark franchise is definitely better when it does not take itself too seriously, as was the case with Pooka Lives, Crawlers, and School Spirit. Good Boy is another fine example, especially since it proves Steve “Mahoney” Guttenberg can still be funny, garnering big laughs as Maggie’s aging pot-head editor.

Judy Greer and McKinley Freeman are both terrific complimenting and contrasting with each other as high-strung Maggie and laidback Nate. Together they make an appealing couple until suddenly they don’t anymore. Of course, Chico constantly upstages everyone as the deceptively sweet-looking Reuben.

It would be sadistically entertaining to watch Good Boy with a Dog Fancy-subscribing cynophilist, because this film will seriously disturb them. It is also rather amusing on its own terms. Enthusiastically recommended, Good Boy starts streaming today (6/12) on Hulu.