The tradition of film canines is a venerable one, dating back all the way to 1905, with Blair, the beloved star of Rescued by Rover. From then, as this review proves, it’s only been up hill. I mean, what can compare (excepting, of course, the film reviewed here) with Benji, that strangely silent, unemotional Texan hero-dog, who bested many an emotional impossibility (these are mature films, people – no bad guys here), all while being so lovable and cute (and detached)! I mean, Benji is an Academy Award nominated film, so let’s hear no more groans from the cynics. If you need further proof, and I hardly dare to think such a thing, Benji is so awesome, so good, they even named his fourth film (of a very respected franchise, I might add) Oh! Heavenly Dog. I don’t know why they only used one exclamation point, but regardless, if that title isn’t enough for you, you are beyond my powers.
But, I don’t want to go too far in my praise or I’ll make my upcoming series, now called Heavenly Benji, similar to the James Bond series, totally invalid. It’s time to talk about what I know you’re all excited for – the expressively titled Cinnamon, directed by Michael Feifer (no relation?), the title of which is definitely a complicated reference to the titular dog’s similarly complicated character, voiced by Brenda Song, much like actual cinnamon in that she’s great in very small amounts, but if you try to swallow an entire spoonful you’ll throw up.
Here’s the jist – two movie-miserable single parents (real miserable wouldn’t be so funny!) are out looking for love. Kevin (Greg Evigan), a sad-eyed widower, works as an architect at Movie LA College, while living in a massive house with his adorably precocious son, Jordan (Kendall Ryan Sanders, and I’m serious about the precociousness, this kid gives the kid from Crazy Stupid Love a run for his money, but minus the pornography, because this is a family film, and we don’t approve of the edginess of films like that). Kevin is very lonely, and we know his dating life isn’t going well because he tells Jordan so. He also lives with the British sister of his deceased wife, played by Lesley-Anne Down, because all family movies need a bizarre asexual feminine presence to comment on the action and help us figure out the complicated twists and turns.
Parent number two is Madeline (Cynthia Gibb), a divorcee from a real jerk husband (men are such dogs! I mean animals!), with a teenage daughter (Ashley Leggat), and we all know that means she’s a b*tch (family friendly!), am I right? Luckily, Madeline has Cinnamon to lighten up her life, else poor Madeline would movie kill herself (because if it was real it wouldn’t be so funny!). Madeline is also doing poorly in the dating game, which we know because Cinnamon despises every man she brings home. All is ok, though! Madeline and Kevin meet quickly and fall in love even faster, all while Cinnamon despises Kevin, which just goes to show how complicated a character she really is, because complicated characters need to be obviously wrong just once.
Perhaps the best part about Cinnamon is the way it adheres to the rules of dog movies, especially the most important one – all the humans must be unbelievably stupid. You see, this is the best part of the genre, because it shows us how fallible we really are compared to our lovable little pets, and it’s also necessary so the dogs can solve the problem instead of the humans. You can see this clearly when the necessary Act 2 relationship crisis occurs not over an honest or meaningful misunderstanding or misgiving (which would give Cinnamon nothing to do!), but over an apparently-but –not-actually-missing Cinnamon, and also that Madeline sees Kevin hugging his sister in the most nonsexual way possible. Oh nose! (that’s a pun Shakespeare would be proud of) It’s ok, though, there’s an airport scene, and Cinnamon uses her bark (clever!) to help save the day, though I won’t actually say that the day is saved, because SPOILERS ARE BAD! The internet tells me so.
Yes, this is a movie made to stand alongside the old dog classics, maybe even Benji. This movie is so clever, even the case is ironic – Deadline Doggywood (wink! wink!) says on the back it’s “Bark-out-loud funny!” Clearly, this is a must-own, then must-see doggy movie! Yep, Cinnamon is exactly what you’d expect from a dog movie titled Cinnamon, and that’s definitely a good thing!
P.S. – Just so you know, the Dove Foundation (christiancinema.com) said that “Jeez” is said at least once in the film, so be on the lookout for that, so you can cover the little one’s ears.