Early on in Bingo, our eponymous star — a wet-nosed mongrel with Border collie smarts — is forced to cross-dress as a French poodle. Decked out in tutu and sheepskin, Bingo is shunted into a circus ring, where he must jump through a ring of fire. Bingo balks, and the screen goes flashback-wavy: As a pup, our hero saw his mother die in a pet- shop inferno.
Bingo has to endure lots more before this canine road movie pulls into the garage: There’s a diner whose hot dogs are literally hot dogs; a hostage situation; and scenes with Cindy Williams.
What’s funny about Bingo is the matter-of-fact way its star goes about doing all things human: He can read, he can skateboard — he even knows CPR. What’s not funny are some of Matthew Robbins’ stabs at parody — the director (Batteries Not Included) struggles to balance hip satire and dog-and-his-boy heroics. The diner scenes — meant to lampoon The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — are in questionable taste, and the occasional profanities just aren’t necessary.
Still, the comedy has its cartoonish, lunkheaded moments. My 9-year-old laughed heartily, although she was quick to suggest that the two bungling crooks were a shameless Home Alone rip-off. They are. C+