A genetically mutated dog is stolen from the lab of mad scientist Dr. Jarret by news reporter/animal rights advocate Lori Tanner, who conceals it from the police in her home. The dog, Max, endowed with intelligence and other special abilities, is at first lovable, but also proves to be a ferocious, unstoppable killer. Written by
Jeff Hole <email@example.com>
"Man's Best Friend" becomes woman's best friend after a nosy reporter (Ally Sheedy) rescues a Tibetan Mastiff named Max from an experimental lab. Max proves to be both fierce and fiercely loyal, attacking muggers and jagoff boyfriends alike. But Max's owner (a bleach-blonde, denim-clad Lance Henriksen) knows his full potential and will do anything to put the canine killer down before he sets him aim higher than neighborhood cats, postmen and snotty paperboys.
The film never takes itself seriously enough to be effective, which is a shame, given how even a film like "Cujo" -- for all of its faults -- managed to milk some tension and tragedy from its dog- gone-bad plot. Unlike the rabid titular star of said film, "Best Friend" Max is a genetically engineered super-dog, meaning logic is left off the table and anything is possible. A particularly memorable scene involves the killer canine chasing a scared cat up a tree, only to climb the tree himself and devour the critter whole. Moments like this are undercut by a corny score that makes light of any situation that may come across as terrifying. Reagardless, there's enough good fun to be had in watching this peeved puppy play. The special effects are quite remarkable and Sheedy in particular has a magnetic charm that keeps the film going even through its limper points.
All in all, "Man's Best Friend" is a pleasant enough creature feature and a fine way to pass an hour and a half. Director John Lafia, who directed "Child's Play 2," knows a thing or two about bringing the absurd to life, and this dog is very much of the same silly but ultimately fun breed. In the end, the film never aims higher than simple b-movie entertainment and like most studio horror of the early '90s, this dog feels neutered and could have benefited from being let off the leash a little bit more.
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