Benji: Off the Leash!

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Benji: Off the Leash!
Benji Off the Leash.jpg
Directed by Joe Camp
Written by Joe Camp
Starring Benji
Nick Whitaker
Music by Antonio di Lorenzo
Distributed by 2004 release - GoodTimes Entertainment
Current - Gaiam/MGM
Release date
  • March 26, 2004 (2004-03-26)
Running time
97 min
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,817,362

Benji: Off the Leash! is a 2004 American comedy-drama film that was shot in various parts of Utah.


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".


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