"My Dog Tulip" Is a Bittersweet Tale of True Love
August 11, 2013
As a rule, I don't watch dog movies.
In fact, my family won't allow it. When my husband and our kids went to see Marley and Me, they decided on the car ride home that under no circumstances was I to see it. When I asked why not? My, then, nine-year-old replied, "Mom, honestly, you just couldn't take it."
It's true. I practically tear up watching old Underdog episodes.
So, imagine their reaction when I picked My Dog Tulip out of the stacks. An animated feature based on the book by British author J.R. Ackerley, the film recounts Ackerley's relationship with a quirky and nearly impossible to control German Shepherd named Tulip. After a rough start, the two settle into a life of loyal companionship. For Ackerley, who by all accounts must have been quite a curmudgeon or just terminally British, Tulip was his true love. The kindred spirit he had searched for all his life.
My Dog Tulip is the work of award-winning filmmakers Paul and Sandra Fierlinger and was an official selection of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. The animation is cutting edge, and the tone is decidedly British and adult. This is not a Disney production. This animated feature includes lots of poop, urine, and cheeky scribbles of doggy romance.
Like any devoted dog owner, Ackerley is perfectly in tune and haplessly clueless, all at the same time, when it comes to Tulips needs. At one point, Ackerley decides Tulip should experience mating and motherhood. His attempts to find her the perfect hook-up are hilarious and horrifying. When the reluctant Tulip finally finds a mate and gives birth to a litter of puppies, Ackerley's fantasy of doggy domesticity is shattered as he is forced to give the pups away to less-than-loving homes.
My Dog Tulip is funny, sentimental, and in the end, thoughtful. Ackerley poetically contemplates whether the man/dog relationship is as satisfying for dogs as it is for humans. Despite their best attempts to offer us loyalty and companionship, dogs have failed to tame us humans.
If you are a dog lover, this film is worth it for the laughs and the tears.