Fluke Movie Poster
|Directed by||Carlo Carlei|
James Herbert (novel)|
|Narrated by||Matthew Modine|
|Music by||Carlo Siliotto|
|Edited by||Mark Conte|
Fluke is a 1995 drama film directed by Carlo Carlei and starring Matthew Modine as the voice of the title character with supporting roles featuring Eric Stoltz, Nancy Travis, Max Pomeranc, Bill Cobbs, Ron Perlman, Jon Polito and Samuel L. Jackson as the voice of Rumbo. The film was based on the novel of the same name by James Herbert.
Fluke is a mutt puppy (a wrong colored Golden Retriever, played by dog actor Buddy, voiced by Sam Gifaldi), who has flashing memories and dreams of having lived a human life. After being taken to a pound and eventually escaping, he is raised by an elderly homeless woman named Bella (Collin Wilcox Paxton), who gives him the name Fluke, stating that he is a "fluke by nature, Fluke by name." Fluke supports Bella by helping her earn money from passing strangers impressed with Fluke's ability to beat Bella's shell game.
After Bella dies of an illness due to poor conditions, Fluke meets a street-wise dog named Rumbo (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) who takes him to see a man named Bert (Bill Cobbs) who feeds Fluke and Rumbo. Fluke matures into an adult dog (now voiced by Matthew Modine) and eventually realizes that he was once a man named Thomas P. Johnson (also portrayed by Matthew Modine), who died in a car crash.
Fluke is then abducted by a man named Sylvester (Ron Perlman) to be used in makeup experiments at a cosmetics company. During his captivity, Rumbo comes to the rescue, and Rumbo is shot by Sylvester, as he and Fluke escape. A dying Rumbo tells Fluke that the black-and-white snapshot of a man in a sailor suit on Bert's wall was him and Bert was his brother and that he wishes to smell the sea again, suggesting that he died in the line of duty.
After Rumbo's death, Fluke seeks out his surviving wife Carol (Nancy Travis) and son Brian (Max Pomeranc) and reunites with them by becoming their new family dog. Though Carol, implied to be afraid of dogs, is apprehensive about adopting Fluke, she caves in seeing how Brian has quickly bonded with Fluke. During his life as a dog, Fluke gets to know his family better and bitterly realizes, much to his regret, that he was a distant workaholic to his family.
As more memories return, Fluke suspects that his human death was caused by his former business partner Jeff Newman (Eric Stoltz). Enraged by this and the fact that Jeff is now dating Carol, Fluke viciously attacks him when he visits the house, and ends up getting put outside. Jeff calls for Animal Control against the protests of Brian, and so Fluke is forced to run from the premises.
The next night, Brian goes missing while looking for Fluke and Carol implores Jeff to help, so Jeff drives back to their house. Fluke, hiding in the backseat of Jeff's car while the latter was at work, comes close to killing Jeff by causing him to get into a car accident like his own. Fluke then has another flashback and realizes that Jeff wasn't responsible for his death. Instead, Fluke had caused his own death when he was recklessly drove on the wrong side of the road just to argue with Jeff one day and swerved off to avoid hitting an oncoming truck. Jeff later tried to save him but failed. An injured Jeff, implied to have realized Fluke's true identity by bearing on ill will, tells Fluke to go find Brian before the latter catches hypothermia from the falling snow. Regretful over his actions, Fluke barks for passing driver to help Jeff before running off.
Fluke finds Brian at the cemetery where the former is buried, and where the latter was accidentally locked in by a groundskeeper unaware of his presence. Fluke huddles Brian to keep the latter warm. Carol, deducing from one Brian's drawings where Brian may have gone, uses her car to bust the lock on the cemetery gates and picks up Brian. Brian tells Carol that he heard Fluke tell him in a vision that Fluke had to leave them. Carol tries to coax Fluke to come home with them. Instead, Fluke digs away at the snow in front of his tombstone to show Carol who he really is by uncovering the word "forever" at the bottom, a phrase he often said to her as a human. Carol is shocked, but now fully understands. With a heavy heart, Fluke leaves, entrusting his family to Jeff for their happiness. He tells the audience that life is simply meant to be cherished, in any form.
Far away and sometime later, Fluke is resting under a tree on a farm by himself. To his surprise and happiness, he is reunited with Rumbo, now reincarnated as a squirrel. Rumbo tells Fluke about life as a squirrel and about reincarnation.
- Buddy as Fluke, a dog that was reincarnated after a business man's death.
- Matthew Modine as Thomas P. Johnson, a workaholic, Jeff's best friend, Carol's husband, and Brian's father. As Fluke the dog, his struggle to return to his former human life ultimately teaches him the importance of moving on.
- Nancy Travis as Carol Johnson, Thomas's wife, Brian's mother. Throughout the movie, she's shown to be not fond of dogs and is even borderline hostile towards Fluke. By the end of the movie, she is implied to have increased empathy for animals after realizing Fluke's true identity.
- Max Pomeranc as Brian Johnson, Thomas and Carol's son. Despite Thomas's workaholic ways, Brian remembers his dad fondly, and is shown to miss him dearly.
- Eric Stoltz as Jeff Newman, Thomas's best friend. In the years since Thomas's death, he has begun to fill the void Thomas left behind.
- Bill Cobbs as Bert
- Ron Perlman as Sylvester
- Jon Polito as Boss
- Collin Wilcox Paxton as Bella, a kindly old homeless lady to cares for Fluke for some time until her death.
Reviews of Fluke were negative with film review website Rotten Tomatoes tallying only 27% of its collected reviews as positive, giving the film a label of "Rotten". Despite these poor reviews both Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave it thumbs up [permanent dead link], and the film also received a rating of 6.6/10 from the movie website Internet Movie Database. In addition to IMDb, Allmovie's reviewer Mark Deming gave the film 3/5 stars. Fluke underperformed at the box office, generating just under $4 million in the American box office. Fluke was nominated in 1996 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for Best Fantasy Film and Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Max Pomeranc.