A little dog named Trouble, the cute character in the center of the above photo, is the hero of this animated film. Netflix acquired the rights to this film made in 2019.
Trouble lives in a beautiful spacious mansion with his elderly mistress, Sarah Vanderwhoosie, voiced by Betty White. He lives a rather spoiled life where he’s kept sparkling clean, accompanies his mistress to the spa and even has a servant to spritz his behind after he relieves himself outside.
One day, his mistress dies, and a couple, her only relatives, are set to inherit the mansion and all her riches on one condition, that they take care of Trouble and first prove themselves to be good caretakers for him for a week. The selfish couple are excited about inheriting riches but show no feeling at the passing of their relative and plan to pass Trouble onto the pound as soon as they pass the test.
In the meantime, Trouble gets himself lost and finds he has to find a way to survive on the streets. He meets up with a female pit bull named Rousey who has street smarts and knows how to survive and scrounge for food. She tolerates Trouble but is not overly friendly to him at first.
Trouble also gets into some, well — trouble — with some comical squirrels who preface their gang-like threats with synchronized dance moves. Inspired by West Side Story? Perhaps. At one point, their leader steals Trouble’s jewel-studded collar and uses it as a belt. At this point, the dancing squirrels reminded me of a disco group like the Jackson 5 or the Osmond Brothers.
Eventually, Trouble runs into Zoe, a pizza delivery girl and aspiring singer, who takes him in.
Meanwhile, the mean couple who understand that Trouble is the key to their inheritance, hire a tracker to go after him. The way this character is drawn somehow reminds me of Jim Carrey the way he appears in several of his movies. His motions are strange and animal-like as he gets on all fours to sniff the ground, hops from tree to ground and practically slithers like a snake. He also picks up the most detailed information from the tiniest of clues. The character is, obviously, very exaggerated from reality but imaginatively presented.
A couple of celebrities are presented in the movie as animated characters, voiced by themselves. These include Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, and Jason Mraz. Cesar acts like a personal attendant and almost therapist to Trouble while he is in the mansion (and later to other dog characters.) Jason Mraz hosts a singing contest that Zoe wants to enter.
I won’t disclose the whole plot, but I will say that everything ends happily. In spite of a lot of goofiness and exaggerated fantasy elements, there is a down-to-earth message that gets across about kindness to animals, adopting strays and how even humans might feel like lost strays sometimes. Overall, I found the movie enjoyable.
As a warning for parents watching with children, there’s a little bit of vulgarity in some places. The dancing squirrels talk to Trouble about “disturbing their nuts,” “stepping on their nuts” and similar phrases. The dialogue makes perfect sense in referring to actual nuts that they have stored in a tree, but there is a suggestion of a double meaning. Even Trouble, the dog, says several times that “this sounds inappropriate.” There is also a very brief scene where a random dog — not one of the main characters — is seen humping first a person’s leg and then a dog toy.