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Sleeping Dogs - Review

Melinda Page Hamilton in Sleeping Dogs

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PARDON the pun but it would have been easy to make a real dog’s dinner of Sleeping Dogs, a mischievous romantic comedy that examines the potentially damaging effects of total honesty in a relationship.

Fortunately, thanks to the combined efforts of Police Academy veteran Bob Goldthwait and his game cast (most notably Melinda Page Hamilton) a film that could have been a lude, crewd and wretched experience emerges as one of the indie surprises of the year.

The film picks up as Amy (Hamilton) is about to become engaged to John (Bryce Johnson) and visit her family for a long weekend.

When challenged to come up with the kinkiest sexual act she’s ever performed, Amy reluctantly reveals an embarrassing (and cringe-worthy) indiscretion she experienced at college with her dog in the spirit of being completely honest.

But John’s reaction is one of outrage rather than understanding and Amy has a fight on her hands to protect her relationship, as well as explain things to her family.

Sleeping Dogs was a deserved hit at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and regularly surprises anyone who catches it partly because it could have been so easy to get the premise wrong.

Fortunately, Goldthwait doesn’t dwell on the act of bestiality itself (shown briefly and off-camera), opting instead to examine the fallout after the revelation is made. As a result, he delivers a film that works on a human level, albeit with kinky undertones.

Hamilton is utterly charming as Amy, nicely capturing the innocent naivety of a girl who believes she can tell her fiance anything but whose faith proves woefully misplaced.

While there’s nice support from Johnson as the boyfriend in question and Bonita Friedericy and Geoff Pierson as Amy’s mother and father, whose own relationship is placed under scrutiny as a result.

For all its sexual inuendo, there’s genuine heart to proceedings too, as exemplified by a couple of extremely poignant scenes between Amy and her family.

That’s not to say the film isn’t without fault. Some of the jokes fall flat and it’s a little rough around the edges given that it was funded by its crew for a mere $50,000 and shot in just over two weeks.

But for those willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, Sleeping Dogs offers a spunky alternative to some of the more traditional rom-com material out there as well as a stand-out performance from Melinda Page Hamilton (you know, the nun from Desperate Housewives).

It’s well worth taking the risk.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 89mins