Dog Days of Summer
by Phil Boatwright

Anchor Bay Entertainment debuts this straight to DVD on April 21st. Will Patton, Richard Herd, Devon Gearhart, Colin Ford, R. Keith Harris. Written by Travis Beacham and Christopher J. Waild. Directed by Mark Freiburger.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Anchor Bay Entertainment presents Dog Days of Summer, a dark thriller with an inspirational message about a mysterious stranger promising a small community a big undertaking. His Pied Piper, Music Man ways beguile most of the locals, but two small boys see him as the Boogieman who came to town.

PREVIEW REVIEW: In the black & white days of television Rod Serling introduced a Twilight Zone episode featuring Gig Young as a middle-aged man unable to find himself until he returns to his childhood hometown. And this being a Twilight Zone, sure enough he meets himself as a child. Valuable lessons are learned, Twilight Zone style. Where Mr. Serling’s team delivered this poignant tale in less than 20 minutes, the producers of Dog Days of Summer take a much longer time to present basically the same concept if not exactly the same theme. Told in flashback, the residents’ dishonesty with themselves is brought to light as the lead character returns to this now deserted village seeking understanding and restoration.

It is a thoughtful production, nicely brought to life by its cast, but the pacing is slower than dog days molasses. Its message could have been helped either by a tightening of the script or perhaps the addition of a few more foibles needing to be revealed. As it is, I didn’t find that much corruption of the soul. Bottom line for me, I wasn’t moved, nor did I much care for the main characters.

I’d like to be more supportive of the filmmakers and wouldn’t want to suggest they are not talented. Producer Rick Eldridge was responsible for The Ultimate Gift, a film that garnered a positive critique from yours truly. The cast are all journeyman actors with lists of credits, and the writers bravely insert symbolism into their drama. In fact, I look forward to their next effort.

Not rated, the film contains subject matter that may be disturbing for children, including the loss of a parent, a drowning of a child and a distant father struggling with depression and alcohol abuse. Due out April 21st and runs 88 minutes. Priced at $19.95 and contains English subtitles for the hearing impaired.

Allow me to suggest three tales that feature rural life, redemption, and justice, each written by Horton Foote, a man who knew how to write about country ways.

DVD Alternatives: To Kill A Mockingbird: Horton Foote's winning screenplay of the Harper Lee novel about rural life, justice, honor and bigotry as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl. A beautifully photographed black-and-white movie with a haunting score by Elmer Bernstein. Gregory Peck was never better.

Tender Mercies: Robert Duvall stars as a country western singer on the skids until a religious widow and her little boy take him in. Rated PG for some objectionable language in the beginning. But when the Christian woman has an effect on his life, out goes the profanity. Oscars went to Duvall and writer Horton Foote.

Trip To Bountiful: Simple but well-told story of discontented widow (Geraldine Page) who decides to make a last pilgrimage to her childhood home. Page won Best Actress for her wonderfully textured performance. The beautiful rendition of "Softly and Tenderly" by Christian performer Cynthia Clawson is worth the rental price. PG (contains a couple of expletives).