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Bingo Reviews

Director Matthew Robbins and screenwriter Jim Strain have attempted to breathe new life into the tired a-boy-and-his-dog genre. Unfortunately, this remake of THE LITTLEST HOBO is a bust! BINGO is filled with countless cliches, corny jokes, vulgarities, silliness and unconvincing plot twists. The story begins when young Chuckie Devlin (Robert J. Steinmiller, Jr.) is saved from drowning by Bingo, a mongrel dog recently kicked out of the circus by a cruel master. Nothing is more important to Chuckie than keeping Bingo by his side, but his insensitive father (David Rasche), a macho, self-absorbed, football place-kicker, is seemingly incapable of understanding his litle boy's needs and their relationship quickly deteriorates when Dad refuses to allow Chuckie to keep Bingo. After being traded to the Green Bay Packers, Dad moves his family from Denver to Michigan, and Bingo faithfully treks cross-country after them. Predictably, Bingo becomes involved in a variety of adventures and misdemeanors and even ends up in jail (with his own green uniform yet), followed by a court appearance where he takes the witness stand. Among Bingo's preposterous accomplishments: he captures practically single-handed (make that single-pawed), with some help from the police, some dopey kidnappers when he dials 911 and then relates his message in Morse code by manipulating the receiver; and he leads the escape of a gang of dogs from a not-quite-ethical sausage factory. As expected, Bingo is finally reunited with Chuckie, and father and son eventually reach a gentleman's agreement. Apparently filmmakers Robbins and Strain were attempting to create an entertainment that would appeal to both younger and older audiences alike. Their theory, obviously, was that the old-fashioned boy meets dog, boy loses dog, dog makes perilous journey to find boy formula, updated to include lots of "shrewd" observations of the l990s and to poke fun at a number of cinematic genres along the way, would include moments of interest for both youngsters and their parents. Unhappily, the filmmakers miss the boat on both counts, since the continuous unpleasantness between Chuckie and his father is just not all that much fun for the kids, while the often unbelievably hokey nonsense that passes for adult wit falls on deafened adult ears. In addition, the incessant employment of the song "Bingo" ("There was a boy who had a dog/and Bingo was his name-oh B-I-N-G-O ... ") is enough to drive the average human being--of whatever age--bananas. About every five to ten minutes it seems one or another character is either humming, whistling, singing or bouncing around to this song which is also heard unrelentingly on the soundtrack. Both Bingo and his human costars, including Cindy Williams, who has the thankless role of young Steinmiller's hysterical mother, do what they can to make a go of this movie, but alas, their efforts are largely in vain. Extremely unnecessary vulgarities, such as Bingo's following his master cross-country by a trail of urine, prohibits this kid-oriented film from being recommended for children. (Mild violence.)