Benji: Off the Leash!
|Benji: Off the Leash!|
|Directed by||Joe Camp|
|Written by||Joe Camp|
|Music by||Antonio di Lorenzo|
|Distributed by||2004 release - GoodTimes Entertainment
Current - Gaiam/MGM
The film starts with the understanding that the makers of the Benji films are going to various towns in the U.S. looking for the next dog to play Benji. In a small Mississippi town, a freelance dog breeder named Hatchett keeps a backyard kennel under poor conditions behind his home. He lives with a young boy named Colby and his mother and is verbally abusive to them, but Colby loves dogs and secretly nurtures a female black dog who is Hatchett's top breeder. He goes to an abandoned house in the neighborhood and takes food and water to the black dog so she can produce milk for her new pups. Hatchett learns of this and takes the black puppies but abandons a fluffy, light-colored "mongrel". Over several months, Colby secretly cares for the puppy, and it grows into the unnamed fluffy dog that will become Benji.
Meanwhile, two Animal Control officers named Livingston and Sheldon come across a shaggy dog that is impossible to catch. A local elderly man, Zachariah Finch, offers food to the stray at his home in the woods and becomes attached to him. The dog is dubbed "Lizard Tongue" by the officers looking for him (due to its long tongue always hanging out of its mouth). When the fluffy dog sees that her mother is sick in the kennel, he opens her cage and helps her escape. Then he gets Lizard Tongue to help when she is too weak to eat, and they both draw the Animal Control officers to the abandoned house and the ailing black mother dog. At the shelter, a veterinarian determines she is dying from over-breeding and poor care, so the shelter director and the local sheriff authorize the vet to spay the dog.
When Hatchett learns that the Benji film producer is in town and wants the fluffy dog to be the new Benji, he intimidates Colby into lying about being the owner. At the shelter, the fluffy dog is reunited with its mother, and Colby tells everyone the truth about the dog, which makes Hatchett lose his temper and get arrested. The end credits show various scenes from the film as they were shot and make reference to the origins of the shelter dogs used in the film.
Benji: Off the Leash! was filmed in various parts of Utah such as Kaysville, Ogden, Payson and Salt Lake City as were stated in the end credits. The credits also jokingly refer to the number of computer-generated imagery effects and animatronic dogs used in the film as "none".
- Nick Whitaker as Colby, the son of Hatchett and his wife
- Chris Kendrick as Terrance Muncy Hatchett, a cruel and arrogant dog breeder
- Christy Summerhays as Colby's mother
- Neal Barth as Zachariah Finch, a local elderly man
- Randall Newsome as Livingston, an animal control officer
- Duane Stephens as Sheldon, an animal control officer
- Nate Bynum as Sgt. Oswald Lewis
- Melinda Haynes as Animal Shelter Director
- Joey Miyashima as Veterinarian
- Scott Wilkenson as Film Producer
- Jeff Olson as Paul's Market owner
- Moochie as Benji, an unnamed fluffy dog
- Sally Sue as 8-Week-Old Benji
- Odola as 4-Month-Old Benji
- Shaggy as Lizard Tongue