Hachi: A Dogs Tale (2009)
[IMDB Completionists Series - #8 of 85]
It has Hallmark all over it. Delicate plinky, plonky piano and melodic woodwind, delicate and respectable fonts for the credits, lots of cosy warm tones of autumn orange hues. It ticks all of the boxes early on that you're going to have a perfectly wonderful, non-invasive, unchallenging time with Hachi and his tale.
Weighing in at a respectable #226 at time of writing, this is immediately flattered by its position in the bastion of great films and you may wonder why it finds itself in such a lofty position. So did I, as it happens...
So I waited. And then waited a bit longer. Then a bit longer.
Richard Gere stars as the man seemingly fated to be Hachi's new owner when he finds the dog apparently abandoned at the train station one evening after work. He tries to palm him off to the station manger Carl (Jason Alexander) who isn't having any of it, so is forced to take him home to meet his wife Cate (Joan Allen) and teenage daughter Andy (Sarah Roemer).
Inevitably Hachi's "just one night, I promise" turns into a lifetime and life goes on perfectly smoothly. Hachi refuses to learn how to fetch a ball yet is smart enough to know exactly when his master is due to finish work and alight the train at his local station, dutifully and with suitable flabbergasting, arriving to meet him every day.
Eventually the plot does both thicken and darken and the love Hachi has for his master becomes abundantly clear and Bill Murray's now famous quote makes more sense than ever.
"I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person."
This story reaches a fairly predictable conclusion and the more soft hearted viewers in the audience will be moved a great deal by its final third. Having seen quite a few movies of this type by now, I question whether this belongs in the venerated hall of fame that the top 250 films reside and I think there are better versions of the what is essentially the same story.
Harmless light-entertainment which does exactly what you expect it to, but far from classic.