It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without dogs. Whether you are a dog owner yourself or simply encounter a couple of pooches around your neighborhood, it’s hard to resist those big eyes and fluffy faces. Our loveable four-legged friends make the perfect movie stars, too: they’re made for action, love getting attention, and make us laugh and fall in love. From the beginning of film history to today, some of the most cherished movies feature canine costars. Even this year’s Best Picture winner, “The Artist,” starred a sweet Jack Russell terrier named Uggie. Here are seven top picks for a dog-themed movie night.
“Lady and the Tramp” (1955): Dogs have starred in several of Disney’s classic animated features, including “101 Dalmatians” and “The Fox and the Hound,” but “Lady and the Tramp” is arguably the most famous. The Lady in this story is a doe-eyed cocker spaniel who falls in love with a street mutt, Tramp. From the famous spaghetti scene to the rest of the cast of adorable animals (including those scheming Siamese cats), “Lady and the Tramp” has been a favorite of dog-loving children and their families for decades.
“Old Yeller” (1957): As far as dog movies go, it doesn’t get any more classic than “Old Yeller.” Many movie lovers remember this tearjerker about a boy and his best friend, a yellow lab named Old Yeller, as one of the first films they saw as a child. The farmland adventures of the boy and his dog are sure to be enjoyed by today’s children as much as they were when it was first released, and is also a great way to introduce kids to some classic cinema. Be sure to warn young children beforehand about the bittersweet ending, though.
“Turner & Hooch” (1989): Dogs usually show up in family movies or comedies, but they have proven to be so versatile that they can even star in detective stories. The dog in question here is Hooch, a huge, slobbery Dogue de Bordeaux who is adopted by detective Scott Turner (Tom Hanks) after his owner is killed. Hooch even turns out to be a witness in the crime, but he also completely uproots his new owner’s life in some hilarious, messy ways. The film was a hit when it was released in the late 1980s, and still has all of the appeal and heart it did then.
“Beethoven” (1992): Considered a modern family classic, “Beethoven” is about a family that adopts a new puppy, unaware of just how gigantic he’ll become. Beethoven is a St. Bernard, and his size leads him headfirst into all sorts of trouble. Starring Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt as Beethoven’s puppy parents, families that have adopted a puppy of any size will see themselves in the fun and chaos that Beethoven brings. If you’re crazy for Beethoven, be sure to also check out its many sequels.
“Best in Show” (2000): If you’re more in the mood for a dark comedy, “Best in Show” is the dog movie for you. This mock documentary sends up the world of competitive dog shows and the people who love them with the stories of five show dogs and their owners. With hilarious performances by an ensemble cast including Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Parker Posey, “Best in Show” is a very funny look into the closed doors of dog shows, and is sure to entertain both those familiar with the contests and those who just watch them.
“My Dog Skip” (2000): This touching movie is sure to tug at the heartstrings of anyone who grew up with a dog. Set in the 1940s, Willie (Frankie Muniz) is painfully shy and has trouble fitting in until he becomes the new best friend of a terrier named Skip. The dog helps Willie to grow and break out of his shell, and becomes beloved by the rest of Willie’s neighbors. This family drama is touching and great to watch with the family-there’s something in it for dog lovers of all ages.
“Marley & Me” (2008): The tradition of movies starring man’s best friend continues with “Marley & Me,” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. Wilson plays a journalist who adopts a yellow lab, Marley, to see if he and his wife are ready to have children. They didn’t, count on Marley being such a handful, though. As the family grows and changes, Marley enriches his masters’ lives more than they ever thought possible. Like many dog movies, this one is sure to make you tear up towards the end, so be sure to bring tissues.