For the Love of Benji (1977) [Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital]

I was never actually a fan of movies where we have to follow an animal or group of animals as we follow along on their adventures. It never dawned on me that animals have such exciting lives and I was never interested In that sub-genre. Save for the “Homeward Bound” movies, but that’s a whole other discussion. “Benji” is considered a classic by many that also begat a ton of copycat films, and “For the Love of Benji” is the follow up that, I assume is intended for kids. It’s kind of dark, all things considered.

“For the Love of Benji” is a plodding boring movie that tries very hard to turn its titular dog in to some kind of inadvertent hero. Benji always finds himself in trouble and is this time a victim of a terrorist. On the way to Greece with his owners, Benji is drugged and a mysterious code is tattooed to his paws. When he’s kidnapped, Benji boldly flees and finds himself on the streets of Greece looking to re-connect with his owners. Along the way he is chased by the terrorists, secret agents, and their vicious attack dogs, all the while he spends his time scrounging for food and trying to gain the will to keep fighting the endless obstacles that get in his way.

While you think this would amount to some good old fashioned kid oriented fun, the movie takes much of itself seriously. There’s very little watering down toward a lot of the hazards dogs face. Sure, there’s camp, but there are also scenes where Benji runs in to traffic, is nearly mauled by a Rottweiler, and is consistently shot at. In the area of camp, the best part is when the director pans in on Benji’s face as if he has a various expressions conveying his sadness or confusion. Even in the finale, when he sees an old enemy holding his owner at gun point, he flashes back to being kidnapped by them.

If anything, “For the Love of Benji” at least will likely be a good and fun movie for folks that love the character and enjoyed the original movie. For me, though “For the Love of Benji” just didn’t hook me in with its premise, and I was just bored to tears.

The remastered Blu-Ray and DVD combo comes with a digital code for consumers. The release comes with an audio commentary featuring director Joe Camp, and son Brandon Camp, both of whom discuss the story, music, working in Greece, working with animals a lot more. There’s “Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland,” a half hour TV special featuring our pal Benji who goes to Marineland in Florida to make friends with sea animals. It’s on the DVD, only. Finally, there’s a second feature length film on the DVD from director Joe Camp entitled “The Double McGuffin.” In it a group of kids race to keep a prime minister from being assassinated.