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In the world of a Wes Anderson movie, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Sure, you can bet on the distinguished color palette, the classic rock songs, the damaged characters, and at least, in a few of his films, a scene with a dog (or few). In his opus Isle of Dogs (2018), as the name implies, canines take center stage. But you’re not quite certain whether they will be hurt mercilessly or even killed. Mr. Anderson’s alleged track record has been to exhibit the pain and death inflicted on pooches. He interweaves into his narratives the possibility for a dog or dogs to find themselves at a crossroads between life and death. Like a deranged kennel keeper, some would say, Wes Anderson pits his furry characters against other humans and each other, if there are more than one in a scene.
With every scene rendered meticulously to fit his vision, before Isle, Anderson seemed to have a proclivity to bring down the doggies. Over a career that has spanned more than two decades, Wes Anderson has a bodycount of dogs on his résumé. Despite what most cynics say about Isle, which is that it is an act where the writer, director, producer, and sometimes actor only concocted a movie about dogs to atone for his past efforts where the outcome for dogs isn’t always so good. So get your British Invasion recordings and make sure that you spot the symmetry for, Why Are You Ranking: Best Scenes of Dogs in Wes Anderson Films Listed from Bark to Bite.
"This is an adventure..."
3. Cody from 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou' (2004)
Though only tripedal, Cody plays a role that endears to the viewer. When he is smacked with a newspaper by Jeff Goldblum’s character Alistair Hennessey, the viewer can see in Bill Murray’s Steve Zissou that he’s less than amused. This is an example of Anderson conveying to the audience how rotten Hennessey is for striking a dog. The dog is forgotten twice, however. The pirates leave him on the Calypso and Zissou and his crew leave him on the island. What becomes of the dog, the audience never discovers. Hopefully, someone with access to a prosthetic limb comes to rescue him.
The Name Drop of One of the Most Brilliant Minds
2. Nicolaus and Copernicus from 'Rushmore' (1998)
In the film, the dogs get just a brief appearance. Dr. Nelson Guggenheim (Brian Cox) calls their names in a meme worthy way with Herman Bloom (Bill Murray) and allows them to live. No blood, no killings, the two dogs just hop up and bark and reach for Dr. Guggenheim’s affection. In mere seconds, the two dogs share the screen with two juggernauts of the movie world. This is nearly twenty years before Isle of Dogs. So, to look down upon Mr. Anderson for his inability to convey a positive or safe environment for dogs is just nonsense.
All in the Family
1. Spark Plug from 'The Royal Tenenbaums' (2001)
Again, a brief showing of the dog, Spark Plug, the Dalmatian, takes over for the deceased Buckley. When the beagle is ran over by a drug-addled Eli Cash (Owen Wilson), the fire crew show up with Spark Plug. While it is certainly sad to have a dead beagle, Spark Plug takes over for his fallen comrade in being there for his humans. As they play tennis, go to the hospital, and have one of the members of the family buried, Spark Plug stands as a distinguished guard-dog. Even though what happens to him following the events is left to the cinematic ether, it can be stated as a fact that while he receives little screen time, Spark Plug proves to be one vigilant canine.