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Los Angeles Times

'Firehouse Dog'

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Reaaaaaallly could've lived without the shot of the dog doing his "business" in a pot of stew.

And breaking wind. Yeah, dogs break wind, even Irish terriers. We get it. No need to revive that gag multiple times.

"Firehouse Dog" is a pampered pooch picture that panders to people _ very young people _ who find the pun "dog duty" funny. It took three screenwriters to come up with that, appropriate considering that it took four dogs to play the star of this kiddie comedy, a movie-and-TV dog named Rexxx.

He's the star of "The Fast and the Furrious," "Jurrasic Bark," and their ilk, a spoiled diva who won't leave his luxury dressing room because of the Dalmatian who broke his heart.

But an accident finds Rexxx the wonder dog lost in the wilds of what appears to be Toronto. A kid (Josh Hutcherson of "Bridge to Terabithia") finds the dog, or rather runs afoul of him. The boy's the son of a firefighter (Bruce Greenwood), and soon the dog's intelligence is showing itself around the house, in the station, and in fires.

Because Engine 55 could use a mascot, and a kick in the pants. They're all still in mourning over a dead firefighter and mascot. They're the last to arrive at fires thanks to their alarming lack of urgency.

The dog shows up, finds his true calling, and the firefighters (Bill Nunn among them) regain the spring in their step.

One or two canine stunts are winners (the best involves a firehouse pole), scenes at a dog agility course and the doggy Hollywood funeral tickle you behind your ears.

But this one is so short of good gags that the writers go to the what-dogs-do jokes, time and again. Puerile stuff.

How can you go wrong with a movie about firefighters, a cute kid, and a dog? All that's missing is baseball.

Truth be told, it's not hateful. But "Firehouse Dog" is like that corgi or collie who won't or can't learn a trick. It just lies there, looking cute, gathering fleas.

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