Patrick: An agreeable kids’ film about a pugnacious pug

Review: Beattie Edmondson inherits a spoilt pooch in this live-action Disney movie

Film Title: Patrick

Director: Mandie Fletcher

Starring: Beattie Edmondson, Ed Skrein, Tom Bennett, Emily Atack, Jennifer Saunders, Gemma Jones, Adrian Scarborough, Bernard Cribbins, Meera Syal

Genre: Family

Running Time: 94 min

Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 05:00

   

With superheroes and Star Wars to look after, Disney doesn’t make as many live-action family films as it used to. So Patrick, a perfectly agreeable kids’ film about a pugnacious pug, is an unusual and welcome find in the summer schedule.

Sarah Francis (Beattie Edmondson) is a recently dumped klutz who has dropped out of law school to become a teacher. As English screen singletons go, she’s not as man hungry (mungry?) as Bridget Jones or as goopy as a Richard Curtis love interest, but she is ditzy enough to make one fearful when, in an unexpected bequest by her late grandmother, she inherits a spoilt-rotten pug named Patrick.

The tag line – which is almost worth an extra review star – is “Pug at First Sight!” The tag line is a lie. Sarah and Patrick are, as she puts it, “a match made in hell”. He eats bedroom slippers, destroys furniture and turns up his nose at regular dog food. She moans and struggles with the duties of fur-motherhood, a new unruly class that has no interest in learning about Jane Eyre, and a slightly condescending family.

An agreeably ramshackle screenplay rustles up two potential suitors, including a smooth-talking vet (Ed Skrein) and a nicer guy (Tom Bennett) who helpfully pops up at convenient moments and locations. A 5km fun run becomes a major plot point for some reason. Older British veterans – Gemma Jones’s stern dog-lover, Meera Syal’s nonchalant headmistress, Bernard Cribbins’s cranky complainer – appear in the margins.

Jennifer Saunders bumbles magnificently as a home-economics teacher. Patrick is something of a reunion for the Ab Fab star, with Mandie Fletcher, director of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, at the helm and Saunders’s daughter Beattie Edmondson in the lead role.

The hugely likeable Edmondson has, evidently, inherited her parents’ flair for physical comedy. Even when the one-liners are bland, her facial expressions and commendably goofy running style are funny. Her pugly costar is equally amusing.

Definitely not a sequel to or remake of the 1978 telekinetic murder horror of the same name.