ONCE UPON A CRIME
Thursday January 16
SCTV alumnus Eugene Levy directed this lively 1992 farce, which stars Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Sean Young (Blade Runner) as an unlikely pair of traveling strangers brought together in Rome by the discovery of a lost dachshund. After meeting cute, they attempt to return the dog to its wealthy owner in Monte Carlo, only to find themselves swept up in a murder mystery. The large ensemble cast includes John Candy, James Belushi, Cybill Shepherd, Ornella Muti, Giancarlo Giannini, George Hamilton and Joss Ackland. Watch out for Levy’s uncredited cameo as a casino cashier. Charles Shyer, Nancy Meyer and Steve Kluger wrote the screenplay.
Friday January 17
Are dogs really super-intelligent aliens who originally came to Earth bent on global domination? That’s the premise of this agreeably silly 2003 family feature. Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) supplies the voice of Hubble, an adorable terrier who’s dispatched to this planet to find out why the whole plan for canine conquest has gone off the rails. Hubble gets an inkling of what went wrong when he’s adopted by a shy 12-year-old named Owen (Road To Perdition‘s Liam Aiken), and is introduced to the seductive comforts of a suburban family dog’s lifestyle. But if he wants to stay and prevent a planet-wide recall of Earth’s canine population, he’ll have to figure out a way to convince his supreme leader, The Greater Dane (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave), that dogs really do rule the world. Saturday Night Live alums Molly Shannon and Kevin Nealon also star, while Carl Reiner, Brittany Murphy, Delta Burke, Cheech Marin and Donald Faison (Scrubs) provide additional doggie voices. Zeke Richardson co-wrote the script with John Hoffman, who also directs. The music is by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh.
Saturday January 18
Based on real-life events, this 2009 South African feature tells the story of Pierre (Quentin Krog), an emotionally damaged young man who bonds with a troubled horse named Tornado. Sensing Tornado’s potential, Pierre travels with him to the Kalahari Desert in search of legendary “horse whisperer” Barrie Burger (Danny Keogh). Together, Pierre and Tornado embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery that will change both their lives. Regardt van den Bergh directed.
Sunday January 19
This sweet-natured 1992 family feature proved so popular that it led to a whole litter of sequels. An adorable stray St. Bernard pup insinuates himself into a suburban family over the objections of the uptight exasperated dad, played by Charles Grodin, and soon grows into a slobbery 200-pound perpetual mayhem machine. Meanwhile a sinister veterinarian (played by former Disney movie mainstay Dean Jones) and his buffoonish assistants (Oliver Platt and Stanley Tucci) plot to kidnap the lumbering Beethoven for scientific experiments. Bonnie Hunt, David Duchovny and Patricia Heaton also star. John Hughes co-wrote the screenplay. Brian Levant (The Flintstones) directed.
Thursday January 23
A driven, workaholic executive (Matthew Modine) dies in a car crash, only to return to life as a lovable mutt in Fluke, a 1995 family feature with a surprisingly deep philosophical streak. At first, the reincarnated canine has no recollection of his life as businessman Thomas Johnson. But after being adopted by his former family, Fluke begins to recover his human memory – and to form suspicions that his death was no accident. Could his onetime business partner Jeff Newman (Eric Stoltz) have been responsible? And can Fluke prevent Jeff from putting the moves on Thomas’s widow Carol (played by Nancy Travis)? Samuel L. Jackson also stars as Fluke’s streetwise doggie mentor Rumbo. With Max Pomeranc and Ron Perlman (Sons Of Anarchy). Based on the novel by James Herbert. Carlo Carlei directed.
Friday January 24
From Flipper to Francis the Talking Mule, this 1976 documentary takes an affectionate look back at the most ferociously talented animal stars in Hollywood history. Features appearances by Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck, James Cagney, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and many others.
THE PEBBLE AND THE PENGUIN
Saturday January 25
A bashful penguin named Hubie (voiced by Martin Short) faces the adventure of a lifetime when he sets out to win the girl of his dreams, the beautiful Marina (Annie Golden), in this cheerful 1995 animated musical. James Belushi provides the voice of Hubie’s streetwise foil Rocko, who helps him through a series of hair-raising encounters with killer whales, a ravenous leopard seal and other menacing Antarctic creatures. Tim Curry is Hubie’s romantic rival, the villainous Drake. Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman composed the songs. Animation veteran Don Bluth co-directed with Gary Goldman.
LARGER THAN LIFE
Sunday January 26
This offbeat 1996 comedy stars Bill Murray (Groundhog Day, Lost In Translation) as a second-rate motivational speaker who inherits a trained elephant from his long-lost father, a former circus clown, and embarks on a cross-country odyssey with his 8,000-pound charge. Janeane Garofolo (24), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Jeremy Piven (Entourage) also star. Humorist Roy Blount Jr. wrote the screenplay. Howard Franklin directed.
Thursday January 30
This 1989 action-comedy puts a canine spin on the standard buddy-cop movie conventions. The lumbering James Belushi (According To Jim) stars as Dooley, a loose-cannon vice cop who’s paired up with the only partner willing to work with him: a clever police dog by the name of Jerry Lee. After a rocky start, this odd couple starts to bond – just in time for a rousing climax that pits Dooley’s brawn and Jerry Lee’s brains against the machinations of a ruthless international drug dealer (played by Lost’s Kevin Tighe). Mel Harris and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family) also star. Rod Daniel directed.
Friday January 31
See Thursday January 23.
Saturday February 1
Based on author Marguerite Henry’s children’s classic Misty of Chincoteague, this beloved 1961 family feature tells the simple but moving tale of youngsters Paul and Maureen (David Ladd and Pam Smith) who set out to catch and tame a wild pony running free on the island of Assateague off the coast of Virginia. But the pony, known as the Phantom, has a surprise in store for the kids: a young foal they name Misty. Arthur O’Connell and Anne Seymour also star. James B. Clark (A Dog Of Flanders, Flipper) directed.
HECK’S WAY HOME
Sunday February 2
What’s a loyal family dog to do when he becomes separated from his owners during a move? Well, if you’re a resourceful mutt like Hector (played by BC), you’ll stop at nothing to find your family, even if means traveling thousands of miles. Determined to catch up with best friend Luke Neufeld (Chad Krowchuk) and his parents (Shannon Lawson and Being Erica’s Michael Riley) before they depart for Australia, Heck stages a daring escape from the dog pound, hops a train, and begins an amazing journey across Canada, helped along the way by friendly hobo Red (Don Francks). But a relentless dogcatcher (played by Oscar winner Alan Arkin) is just one step behind. Michael J.F. Scott directed this charming 1996 family feature, from a script by Da Vinci’s Inquest Creator Chris Haddock.