starring Brian Cox, Tom Sizemore, Kim Dickens, Amanda Plummer
screenplay by Stephen Susco
directed by Trygve Allister Diesen and Lucky McKee
by Alex Jackson Hilariously bad. See it with somebody you love just so you have it in your mutual lexicon. The titular Red, a 14-year-old dog, belongs to Avery (Brian Cox), a small-town store owner. Avery and Red are fishing one lazy afternoon when they are approached by a trio of delinquent teens, who rob them at gunpoint. When Avery is unable to produce a satisfactory amount of money, the leader shoots Red in the head. Avery goes to the boy's wealthy father (Tom Sizemore) to get an apology only to see his accusations dismissed. He can't let this go, however--Red wasn't only his best friend, he was the last remnant of his family. And so he pursues the three boys himself, his rage at this injustice increasingly mounting. A typical scene in the film shows Avery walking into the local gun shop to suss out who bought the shotgun that killed Red. The clerk refuses to divulge the information until Avery tells him, "They shot my dog," at which point the proprietor tells the clerk to give Avery whatever he asks for. He has a dog, too, you see. On a hunting trip he accidentally shot his foot off and the dog started barking for help. That was the last time the little guy ate Alpo, it's been top sirloin ever since. I am not making any of this up. Red is, without irony, a straightforward revenge tale centred on Man's bond with Canine. There is no attempt to explore this material from some kind of sane perspective. Lightly, it suggests that Avery never got over the death of his wife, thus preventing him from forming a romantic bond with other women; and he finds a parental relationship with his adult son (admittedly pretty rotten, we learn through a hilariously melodramatic monologue) too complicated to pursue. He prefers the company of dogs because they're endlessly loyal, loving, and simple--much unlike human beings. The film takes this at face value, never pushing Avery to see that attitude as a crutch and grow as a person. I suppose Red deserves praise for never condescending to the material or copping a superior attitude, but it needs to be a lot more sophisticated if it is to survive even the most rudimentary analysis.