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Here is a naive-sentimental comedy set in Yorkshire during a picturesque version of the 1970s, with a nostalgic news-clip montage over the opening credits. It’s one of those weirdly fangless British films that look like kids’ TV – perfectly well meaning, with a high-calibre cast, including Lesley Sharp, Iain Glen and Ian Hart, but frankly rather mystifying in that it’s difficult to see who it’s for.
The story is occasionally childlike, almost babyish, with performances and direction that could be pitched at preteens, and yet there’s also sometimes a blearily grownup and cynical feel to the jokes: a world of cheerfully dodgy dealers in murky pubs.
The Dusty of the title (played by Luke Newberry) is a shy, lonely, Bambi-like boy who has been away at a posh private school on a scholarship preparing for Oxbridge – to the disgust of his tough, working-class dad, played by Hart. Dusty’s lairy older brother Little Eddie (Ben Batt) welcomes Dusty home for the holidays and takes him to the pub, trying to get this embarrassing young milksop to have a proper pint. It is at this moment that, of all things, a greyhound canters into the public bar, on the run from its listless owner-trainer Mickey the Bubble (Glen).
Dusty is entranced, and so is a pretty local girl in the pub called Chrissie (Genevieve Gaunt) with whom Dusty has been obsessed for years. They bond shyly over the dog, which Eddie derisively christens “Slapper”, and buys from Mickey for his kid bro. But then some cruel dognappers enter the picture, keen to exploit poor Slapper for racing – figures perhaps inspired by the horrid Jasper and Horace from 101 Dalmatians.
Their shenanigans are where the film is at its most vapid and kiddyish, although there are moments of goofy charm. It’s a strange, gritless oyster of a film, more feelbland than feelgood.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Dusty and Me review – comedy canine caper lacks bite | Comedy films