The story centers on 12-year-old Owen, played by newcomer Liam Aiken, whose hard work as a dog walker convinces his parents to let him get his own dog.
Owen gets more than he bargained for, however, when he discovers that his new pup, Hubble (voiced by Matthew Broderick) is actually an interplanetary scout from the Dog Star Sirius. According to Hubble, dogs from Sirius came to colonize and dominate Earth eons ago, but they got sidetracked into becoming “man’s best friend.” Hubble has been sent to investigate and needs Owen’s help to whip a bunch of neighborhood dogs into shape for a visit from their powerful leader, the Great Dane (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave). They must pass muster, for the fate of all the hounds on Earth hangs in the balance.
Hoffman’s inspiration for this story came from his own dog. “I wrote the script having just adopted my dog, which had been abandoned,” he explains, “and I remember looking at this new creature in my life and it looking back at me, and being struck by how much the dog was like an alien gazing at me.”
But if you think that the whole alien angle means this is going to be a high-tech, special-effects picture, you’re mistaken.
“I don’t like those kinds of movies,” Hoffman says. “This is a simpler, heartfelt story, more in the vein of Babe, with rich characters and issues to some extent.”
The film is rated PG. Hoffman says: “The film was originally targeted to 5- to 12-year-olds, but now MGM is marketing it to the whole family. And I do think it plays to all ages.”
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