The canine canon |


The canine canon

Droolworthy stars. Tear-jerking story lines. Benji! Lassie! Old Yeller! When it comes to films featuring man's best friend, Hollywood has piled on the doggy treats. Our writers share their favorite live-action pooch pictures.

1. Turner & Hooch (1989)
Twenty-three years ago this month, Hooch made his mark on the genre. Literally. The dribble-jowled Dogue de Bordeaux left a trail of spittle in his wake — and straight to the top of the box office — as half of an interspecies odd couple with neatnik detective Scott Turner (Tom Hanks). Despite Hooch’s penchant for snacking on furniture, his loyalty to his partner in crime fighting has made him, with all apologies to Meg Ryan, Hanks’ most charming costar to date. —Lanford Beard

2. My Dog Skip (2000)
Frankie Muniz plays a scrawny kid in the 1940s who has trouble making friends until his mom (Diane Lane) gives him a Jack Russell terrier. The dog immediately wins over everyone in his Mississippi town — with the exception of the boy’s stony, disabled war-veteran father (Kevin Bacon). Based on a memoir by the late Willie Morris, this coming-of-age tale explores the cost of love and loyalty with surprising maturity. As Willie grows up, Skip grows old. So if you cry easily at movies, the ending to this one is…ruff. —Anthony Breznican

3. The Shaggy D.A. (1976)
If you don’t find the idea of a giant sheepdog in glasses and a suit running for the office of district attorney flat-out hilarious, then, well…you have better taste than I do. But I can’t help but paws whenever stumbling across Disney’s slapsticky Shaggy Dog sequel (with Dean Jones as the man who turns canine at the most inopportune times). C’mon, it’s a half man/half dog! Running for district attorney! The only thing that could possibly be any better is a field-goal-kicking mule. But who would make a movie about that? —Dalton Ross

4. Best in Show (2000)
Christopher Guest’s brilliant mockumentary is set at the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show and stars a blue-ribbon comedy ensemble that includes Guest film regulars Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, and a pre-Glee Jane Lynch. The animal actors perfectly mirror their human counterparts (see: Guest and his mournful bloodhound), but the heavily improvised, wonderfully ridiculous dialogue provides the movie’s most satisfying bite. —Rachel Orvino

5. The Incredible Journey (1963)
Assuming you love animals — hell, even if you don’t — this is one of the best buddy movies ever made. A Labrador, a bull terrier, and a Siamese cat set off on an epic 200-mile journey to reunite with their beloved owners, though the loyal schmoes don’t realize the people are merely taking a vacation. Along the way, the trio face great evils (nasty porcupine!) and terrible hardships (poor wet cat!), but their allegiance to one another remains unbreakable. —Karen Valby