Vampire Dog (2012) — The role Norm MacDonald was born to play

“It looks like a bomb went off in here, followed by smaller bombs, and then Vikings threw a party.”

Justin’s rating: This bites.

Justin’s review: I will never stop being impressed with how lazy Hollywood script writers are. There’s a reason why TV Tropes is filled to the brim with overdone clichés, because lazy writers keep going to the same well over and over again. Like how the biggest problem that a vampire dog can solve is how lonely a kid is now that they’ve moved into a new town. Why, I remember when I moved at the age of 10 and only pulled out of my funk thanks to a mummified tabby cat!

Anyway, I felt like I needed to work out my grief for the passing of Norm MacDonald by covering a movie he probably hoped everyone would forget. Vampire Dog tells the timeless story of a single mom and her drummer teen who are just mildly bummed now that they’ve moved into a gorgeous house in an idyllic neighborhood where drive-by smilings are the worst you’ll endure. Ace, the boy, instantly falls in love with nerdy Skyler, but that’s all threatened when a resident from Transylvania arrives.

This is, naturally, a “vampire” named Fang. Fang fits the perfect mold for a vampire, save that he’s a dog, is 600 years old, has the capacity for speech, has super-speed, has none of the traditional vampire weaknesses, and craves red jelly instead of blood. This is a huge disappointment to anyone who was hoping to see a small canine leap to bite deep into jugulars and consume that hot, salty flow of life from the entire neighborhood.

Chances are that if you ever rent Vampire Dog, you won’t even get to the actual dog before you toss this movie out in disgust, because it contains some of the most cringey kids movie acting that I’ve seen in a long time. Not that I often rent such movies, but you know what I’m talking about. It’s the kind of awkward overacting that Disney and Nickelodeon made really popular in the past couple decades. It’s the sort of pandering that makes you genuinely miss the kids movies of the ’80s and ’90s, even with the Marky Mark musical interludes.

As Fang reveals his true nature to his new family, a couple of makeup scientists are trying to hunt it down for his anti-aging… um… chemicals? Something. Listen, the movie needed antagonists, and it’s either between this or the two 11-year-old mean girls at Ace’s school. There’s also a principal who enjoys popping into the classroom to tell the kids to their faces that they suck (I loved this guy). It’s not a deep well of options, you understand.

There’s also a subplot where the school is closing and this is bad for some reason? And the kids are weirdly bummed about it? So we learn that if the school wins the battle of the bands, they’ll be named a charter school and saved from closing and my brain just imploded from the stupidity of this logic.

What all of this means is that our entire hopes and dreams of Vampire Dog being anything more than garbage water lay on MacDonald to pull out a Detective Pikachu performance and astound us all with his wit and wisdom. I mean, you understand the inherent appeal of seeing how Norm MacDonald would play a vampire dog. From an adult’s perspective, it’s kind of funny to hear Norm’s voice patter on about jelly while clearly thinking that this is all the dumbest thing ever devised. The writing doesn’t let MacDonald off the leash of sarcasm, so to speak, but it’s reasonably amusing in parts. I tried to figure out how much ad libbing he was allowed to do, because I would say “some,” but I’m not fully sure.

There’s a weirdness factor to this movie that makes it the perfect conversation-killer at work. You know, when everyone is gathered in the snack kitchen talking about the big game last weekend, and you blurt out, “I SAW VAMPIRE DOG. HE ATE ALL THE JELLY.” And that’s when you never get invited to staff birthday celebrations after that point.

Didja notice?

  • Computer animated assists to make animals’ faces smile and wink and such will never not be creepy
  • Can never have enough lit candles in your house, am I right?
  • The slow-motion shots in this movie are very poorly done
  • Bad principals have hilariously short ties
  • All teachers’ kids are “total dorks”
  • And that’s when the principal got hit in the junk with a drumstick
  • Nerdy girls read science books while walking
  • Transylvania dogs are delivered in treasure chests?
  • Yeah, a 15-pound dog has the ability to resist being moved on his leash.
  • Apparently everyone in this movie universe keeps jelly in large, dog-accessible bowls
  • He’s “allergic” to sunlight. OK.
  • Hehe, breathe deep into the poop bag. That was funny.
  • Dogs can undress people really quickly
  • And that’s when the dog peed on wires to start an electrical fire
  • Oh good, a dress-up montage
  • So he dreams about being an ape in front of his girlfriend?

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