Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Lassie (2006)

Jonathan Mason, Peter O'Toole, Hester Odgers, Gregor Fisher, Steve Pemberton,
Kelly Macdonald, Edward Fox, Peter Dinklage and Samantha Morton

Rated: PG  for some mild violent content and language
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: September 1, 2006 Released by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

No, Lassie is not a remake or a sequel. Britain's Charles Sturridge works quite efficiently from the 1940 English novel and 1943 movie to make something delightful for the entire family (with the exception of those under elementary school age).

The setting is Yorkshire, prior to WW II, and we see Joe (Jonathan Mason) and his border collie, called "lass" or "lassie", which means girl, are very close.

Duke (Peter O'Toole) sees the collie to be the ideal companion for his purebred male, and his granddaughter Cilla (Hester Odgers) knows there's something special within this lovable canine.

Though the collie isn't for sale, things suddenly change when a coal mine closes where Joe's dad works. A move to the upper reaches of Scotland will separate Joe and Lassie, but it's clear how inseparable these two really are.

Sturridge directs (and writes) a tale in an unsentimental fashion with a great deal of feeling for Charles Dickens. It unfolds in an adventurous way underlining trust and steadfastness as the dog just wants to get home.

A capable British cast figures in this beautifully wrought and crafted tale. Gregor Fisher appears as a Glasgow dogcatcher, Jemma Redgrave is Cilla's not very supportive mom, Steve Pemberton is the villanous kennel guy, Kelly Macdonald is a good samaritan ennobled by meeting the loyal collie, and Edward Fox is a hunter after the Loch Ness Monster. Best of all is the diminutive Peter Dinklage (Elf, The Station Agent) as a nomadic puppeteer.

Samantha Morton (In America) is just right as Joe's mom, elevating the proceedings when she appears to add the emotional touch perhaps when it all could start enervating. The child actors, especially Mason, are bright-eyed and vivacious, making it all feel real to them, and us.

Yeah, LASSIE is about a boy and his dog kept apart for many, many miles due to circumstance. It just has something special about it, including humorous, understated qualities that Sturridge delivers assuredly in a family-friendly way. This timeless tale which has produced numerous movies and radio and TV series doesn't have its lead played by a descendent of "Pal", the original Lassie. Hopefully, it should dissuade families from checking out what has the ability to make one understand why this collie warms the heart.

  Frank Chris Tony Jim Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Lassie       B+       B+

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