Of A Young Man and His Psychic Pet

Don Johnson had an illustrious start, I tell you.  Thanks to Netflix, I got around to seeing the movie a Boy and His Dog over the weekend.

It tells the tale of a young man, Vic (Johnson) roaming the wasteland after nuclear annihilation along with his psychic dog Blood (voiced by the late Timothy McIntire).  Much of the first hour or so is just the Vic and Blood verbally sparring.  Blood is actually smarter than Vic-the dog teaches him world history on their journey.  They have an understanding, the boy finds them food and the dog finds the boy ladies.

The main push of the story is the hunt for a woman to have sex with.  The surface world has become pretty harsh and inhuman.  Groups will raid camps, men are always on the prowl for women, and there seems to be zero consensual sex.  Women are raped, then sometimes killed.  When the Boy discovers a dead woman towards the beginning, he laments not that a life was killed, but that they didn’t leave her alive to be raped more.

The world is portrayed as one without mercy.  The Boy (and other men) do not see what they do as rape, they just see it as having sex.  It is unclear if this is social commentary, or the screenwriter had a jaded view of sex.  It is based on a story by Harlan Ellison, which makes me suspect it was meant as commentary, but that gets lost.

At one point, early on, the Dog tells the Boy he is not a very good person.  And really, this is true.  The film lacks anyone calling for some sympathy.  I mean, it’s not really easy to ask the audience to care about a rapist.  I suspect this is why we only see one successful “conquest” and it quickly becomes consensual.  See, sure, he’s not a good guy, but he could be worse.

He finds a woman named Quilla (Suzanne Benton) and she surprises him by going from his victim to willing participant…and she convinces Vic to join her underground.  Blood doesn’t trust her, but Vic refuses to listen.

Once underground, he is introduced to a bizarre parody of Rural Religious Americana takes over.  This underground world is ruled by Lou Craddock (Jason Robards).  The citizens cover themselves in white face paint and dress like escapees from Little House on the Prairie.

At first, Vic is excited, as it is explained that the community needs fresh genetic material.  He presumes he is about to have lots of sex…but he finds himself treated as the very object he had sought women as.  He is hooked up to a machine to collect his “seed” as if he were simply a bull.

This all leads to a daring escape for Vic, as we see more of the community’s dark side.

Overall, I found the film uninteresting and prone to long boring spots(never good for a movie that is barely an hour and a half).  Certainly it is a story that could be a razor sharp satire of culture, pop culture, religion, the de-humanizing tendencies of mankind, etc.  But it just never really gets that far, and feel almost like it takes itself to seriously.  And when you movie is about a young man and his psychic dog who run into Jason Robards in white face paint?  “Serious” is not a good choice.

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