doody), no creepy gay-panic subtext unplumbed in this family comedy about a pampered canine star who saves a condemned firehouse, mends the heart of an unhappy boy and learns what it means to be a real dog.
Rexxx the wonder dog is a star in some alternate world where scruffy mutts topline mainstream blockbusters like "The Fast and the Furriest" and "Jurassic Bark"; delay production on multimillion-dollar spy thrillers by sulking in their trailers because a PA's black-and-white fleece jacket brought back memories of the corn-rowed Dalmatian who got away; and dodge paparazzi and gossipmongers. Then a sky-jumping stunt goes wrong and it looks as though it's curtains for the spoiled, selfish pooch. Fortunately he falls into a truck full of tomatoes and, presumed dead by his heartbroken "lifetime companion," Trey Falcon (Dash Mihok), Rexxx finds himself pursued by a dogcatcher and takes refuge in an abandoned warehouse right before it's torched by a serial arsonist. Fortunately he's rescued by good-hearted firefighter Connor Fahey (Bruce Greenwood), single parent to sullen 12-year-old Shane (Josh Hutcherson, whose resemblance to a very young Michael J. Fox is positively eerie) and captain of a rundown station earmarked for closing. The best efforts of former firefighter turned politico Zach Hayden (Steven Culp) don't help, but Rexxx's mind-boggling repertory of tricks and courage under fire — he even pulls the captain of a rival station (Claudette Mink) out of a flaming cave-in — win so much public support that the station gets a stay of execution. But once his snout is plastered all over the news, it's only a matter of time before Rexxx's pursuers come to reclaim him.
Just how funny is it that Rexxx is dogged (nyuk nyuk) by rumors that his sleazy sexcapades with Paris Hilton's chihuahua have been caught on tape, or that Trey welcomes him back into the fold with three pastel-dyed poodle hookers? How about the way firefighters Joe and Terence (Bill Nunn, Teddy Sears) recoil every time they accidentally touch each other? And hey, Terence does wear a lavender tie to a dressy fire-department benefit. It's enough to make you long for canine flatulence and crapping-in-the-stew jokes, and screenwriters Claire-Dee Lim, Mike Werb and Michael Colleary oblige. In fact, they oblige with almost two hours of tedious vulgarity, which leaves plenty of time to feel sorry for Greenwood, whose efforts to deliver a warm, subtle performance are regularly upstaged by poo jokes and bratty hijinks. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh