Y’all, I don’t even know what to say about this movie, except maybe I’m being punished for making my mom watch Masterpiece Theater when she really just wants to watch Hallmark. I will gladly take a white folk’s romance about blasé dog trainer over this one about a talking dog angel any day though. I’m being charitable when I say that it makes no damn sense and that there’s a lot of un-Christian behavior for a purported Christian movie.
The whole thing is premised on the death of a dog, Gabriel, on his owner’s wedding day. He finds himself in doggy heaven, which is really human heaven but with a different entrance, and escapes back to earth before he even gets a paw in the pearly dog flap. However, he finds that he’s invisible and has the voice of…Kris Kristofferson, all of which makes his afterlife mission a bit difficult. Tara (Winny Clarke) and Pete (Christian Von Krause), it turns out, didn’t marry that day or any day thereafter. Now their faithful pooch wants to set things right and make sure the two say “I do.”
This is where the writing teacher in me gently presses my students about missing character motivations. Why did Tara and Pete decide to call off their wedding entirely? Why, since they are clearly still in love and intent on staying that way, didn’t they postpone their nuptials or opt for a smaller ceremony? Crucially, why is the whole town blaming Jerry (Will King), the kid delivering flowers, for running over Gabriel when Tara was the one who left the gate open and the dog was chasing a damn squirrel?!
Thankfully we’re not in a high school English class, so I’ll instead say that I can’t believe someone got paid to write this shit. There are so many gaping narrative holes that this was bound to sink. You just can’t fix poor Jerry’s story with a few patch-ups. I don’t know what is wrong with this mean-spirited town and church congregation, but everyone avoids him. They treat him like a leper despite his genuine remorse and willingness to atone for his actions.
So, feeling really bad but also inspired by the preacher’s “it takes a village” sermon, and by Gabe, Jerry decides to plan another wedding for the bitter couple. He needs the help of other congregants though, help which they give in exchange for Jerry’s free labor at their own places of business. Seriously, WTF, folks? Tara and Pete can stage another wedding if and when they want, and none of this should involve Jerry dressing up like a clown and becoming target practice for kids with handfuls of birthday cake.
And let’s not forget doggy St. Peter (I didn’t get the name of the character or actor), who comes to earth and takes on a human form when he realizes Gabe is missing. I don’t know if this makes more sense in the heavenly realm, but somehow, dude thinks he’s going to find Gabe by putting up “missing” posters and asking people if they’ve seen a dog they know is already dead.
But, hey, maybe it’s just me. Some people will enjoy this movie and find Kristofferson’s gravelly monotone endearing. Others will appreciate the syrupy message about community, albeit one that comes without much sense of true forgiveness. I tend to like my pop Christianity a little more Doubt and a little less Heaven is Real, so take your pick.
Alt Title: God’s Best Friend
Prod: Patrick McBrearty
Dir: Justin G. Dyck
Writer: Keith Cooper
Cast: Kris Kristofferson, Will King, Winny Clarke, Christian Von Krause, Brian Scott Carleton
Time: 88 min