Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

A Girl’s Best Friend airs tomorrow (Sunday, 1/4) @ 7:00 PM (ET) on UP TV.

Synopsis:  Polka-Dot, an 11-year-old girl with a quirky devotion to Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, befriends a K-9 police unit officer and his bloodhound Luey while hiding the fact that she lives alone while her single mother is in the hospital with a failing liver. The emotional dramedy stars  James Denton (Grace Unplugged, Desperate Housewives), Laura Mennell (Watchmen, Alpha), Kirsten Robek (Hell on Wheels, When Calls the Heart) and Lilah Fitzgerald (The Pastor’s Wife, The 100) as Polka-Dot. Karen Struck (Charlie & Me, Monday Mornings) teamed with newcomer Jim Buck, a former cop, to write the script. Terry Ingram (Christmas Miracle, My Boyfriends’ Dogs) is the director. The film is a production of Foxfield Entertainment and Mystique Films. 

Review: Like most of UP’s movies, A Girl’s Best Friend is filled with people (and, in this case, a dog) that you like and can’t help but root for. James Denton is genuinely appealing as Cooper “Coop” Brawn, the carefree cop who lives on a houseboat and is reluctantly drawn into the life of young Penelope Daught (aka Polka-Dot) while also pining for Samantha McCutcheon (Laura Mennell), his ex-fiancé who has grown weary Coop’s stubborn refusal take on responsibility in his personal life. She also happens to work for Child Services. Young Lilah Fitzgerald really makes you care about the precocious Polka-Dot and her scenes with single mother (Kirsten Robek) who is in dire need of a liver transplant are moving. Everyone in the cast does a solid job with their roles.

While A Girl’s Best Friend is loaded with charm, humor and poignancy, it does come up quite a bit short in the credibility department. For example, after Polka-Dot sneaks into a police vehicle, thereby complicating a police manhunt, Coop takes her home. It’s late at night and he leaves her off without even making sure her mother is home. On top of that, unless I missed it, we never actually find out if the cops ever catch that criminal they were after. A capture scene would have provided both suspense and an opportunity to show Coop and Luis in action — perhaps saving Polka-Dot from the bad guy’s clutches.

Getting back to credibility, Polka-Dot’s ability to, basically, steal Luis from his K-9 base makes so he can accompany her on her nighttime visits to her mother in the hospital makes the cops who are supposed to be guarding the place seem a bit incompetent. But it’s not just the cops. Doesn’t anyone at the hospital think to ask who is taking care of this child? And would they really allow a dog into the room of a patient with a failing liver — and allow the pooch to actually hop on said patient’s bed?

I also have a minor with the title A Girl’s Best Friend.  I know it’s a little play on the phrase “man’s best friend” but, without knowing anything else about the film, it sounds rather generic — like just another romantic comedy. Personally, I think Polka-Dot’s Best Friend would have popped a little more.

I also would have liked to have seen the actual friendship of the title emphasized a bit more. I’m talking about Polka-Dot’s relationship with Luis. While she takes the hound with her to the hospital, he’s almost a prop rather than a character. We don’t really see a lot interaction between them. Polka-Dot doesn’t spend a lot of time talking to Luis. Such scenes, I think, would also have allowed for a greater exploration of Polka-Dot’s inner thoughts and emotions — plus it’s hard to go wrong with scenes featuring a kid and a dog.

But in the end, despite its flaws, I couldn’t help but like A Girl’s Best Friend. If you’re willing to suspect some disbelief for a couple of hours, you’ll probably enjoy it too. Recommended.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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