0 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Film / The Shaggy Dog


The Shaggy Dog is a 1959 Disney movie starring Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk, partly based on a Felix Salten novel called The Hound of Florence.

Wilby Daniels is a teen who is bright but a bit too naive for his own good. His science experiments cause lots of trouble, his friend Buzz Miller often takes advantage of him, and his dad, while he cares about him, just doesn't understand him. But things change when a new foreign girl named Francessca moves in along with her adoptive father, butler and sheepdog whom Wilby and Buzz take a liking too. After a trip to the museum with both of them, Wilby Daniels discovers that a ring the museum fell into the cuff of his pocket and notices a strange Latin inscription on it. After reading it over and over, he turns into a sheepdog that looks just like Francessca's! Fortunately able to still speak, he goes to the museum owner Professor Plumcutt, who tells him that having read the spell over and over has put the curse of the Borjia ring on him and that until he does an act of heroism, the transformation will come and go and unpredictable times. It's hard enough that he keeps changing from a sheepdog to a human at the worst possible times (not to mention that his father, being a mailman, is a massive dog hater willing to shoot any dog he sees in the house) but he soon discovers while a dog that the girl's father and butler are actually spies sent to steal a government secret for the space program called Section 32. Now it's up to Wilby and his pesky brother Moochie and his father (kinda), to stop the spies before he (and his dad) both end up in the dog house!

The movie was a huge hit at the time of its original release in 1959. It spawned a 1976 sequel (The Shaggy D.A. where a 40 year old Wilby runs for district attorney and his curse comes back), a TV remake in 1994 and very loose theatrical remake in 2006 starring Tim Allen.

Not to be confused with a Shaggy Dog Story.

The Original:

  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening credits have stop motion animation.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Moochy for Wilby. Taken Up to Eleven when Wilby becomes a dog; Moochy doesn't want him to change back because he finally has a dog. He even tries to put a dog collar on him!
  • A Rare Sentence: The scene where Officer Hanson reports Wilby (in dog form) for stealing Buzz's car is full of them. Shortly after this, the police of chief gets one too.
    Police Chief: Would you kindly have my car sent round? That is unless it's been stolen by a purple kangaroo wearing a checkered vest!
  • Betty and Veronica: Allison, the girl next door that grew up with both Wilby and Buzz, and the sophisticated and French Francesca. The two girls actually act more civil towards one another than the Trope Namers do.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Wilby manages to stop the spies and rescue Francesca, resulting in the spell being broken, but unfortunately it's the dog Chiffon who gets all the attention and credit. But Francesca gives Wilby's brother Moochie the dog as thanks and Wilson has finally warmed up to dogs. And on top of that, Wilby and Buzz make up and agree to both share Allison... but she has found another boyfriend.
  • Bumbling Dad: Wilson, somewhat. He's not academically challenged by any means, but he's not exactly awesome at fathering his boys. At the beginning of the film, after Wilby's mishap with the missile interceptors, he makes Wilby get rid of all his science experiments and his pet animals, and tells them to get off the roof he's fixing before he falls off... and ruins the flowerbeds, but he also doesn't like his son dancing with a girl at the dance (having never dated till he was 20). Not to mention he's rather harsh towards his other son Moochie's fondness towards dogs. He gets better in the end.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Wilby, and sometimes his dad.
    • Poor Officer Hanson. He finds dog!Wilby doing all sorts of undoglike things (like using a call box) and ends up doubting his sanity. Then, when he finally realises he isn't hallucinating, his boss and co-workers start doubting his sanity!
  • Captain Obvious:
    Mercer: [after a police car drives by with dog!Wilby driving] That wasn't Hanson!
  • Crying Wolf: A variant; the chief of police understandably doesn't believe Hanson when he says a car has been stolen by a large shaggy dog.
  • Delayed Oh Crap!: Frieda says Wilby's working on an "issil interceptor". Wilson says she must mean a "missile interceptor". He starts talking about the trouble Wilby gets them into, then realises that his son has built a missile interceptor.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Launching a missile interceptor in the basement might have been a bad idea, Wilby.
  • Epic Fail: Most of Wilby's antics. For example, he creates and launches a missile interceptor... in the basement.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Buzz and Wilby certainly think so.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The "Wild and Wooly Edition" DVD holds both the widescreen black and white version, and a 4:3 colorized version.
  • Girl Next Door: Allison, as played by Annette Funicello. She's a very pretty girl whom both boys are interested in dating, only to be forgotten when Francesca moves into town.
  • Jerkass: Buzz Miller, to some extent. He always asks Wilby for money to pay for his dates with girls, and always fails to pay him back, and when the new girl Francesca moves in, he makes it clear he doesn't want Wilby around, wanting to woe her in himself.
  • Oh Crap!: The three main characters each have one.
    • Moochie when he see Wibly start to change into a dog again at the dance.
    • Wilby when he sees [[he's turned back into a human while still in the room with Francesca's father and butler making plans to steal section 32.]]
    • Wilson gets one combined with that of betrayal when [[Moochie is forced to tell the police that he knows nothing about his father's stories about Wilby turning into a dog to avoid being questioned further and rescue Wilby.]]
  • Tempting Fate: Wilson tells Wilby not to fall off the roof or he'll ruin the flowerbeds. Wilby says he won't. Three guesses on what happens next.
  • Two-Timer Date: Zig-zagged. Wilby's friend Buzz asks his usual girlfriend Alice on a date, and later without thinking, asks Francesca, the new girl who just moved in. So Buzz comes up with a creative solution: He will tell each girl that Wilby is nervous and has never had a date before, so to make him feel better, they will each dance with Wilby every other dance, and that way both girls will think they're with Buzz and everybody will be happy. Wilby agrees since its better than going with Moochie. Buzz's plan works perfectly and Wilby is overjoyed to be dancing with Francesca... unfortunately, in the middle of the dance he starts turning into a dog again!

The Remake has examples of:

  • All Animals Are Dogs: Through genetic engineering.
  • Composite Character: The remake is almost completely different from the original and its sequels, but some characters share traits with them.
    • The main character is kind of a mix of Wilby as a kid, (a brilliant but not always considerate person who turns into a sheepdog and stops a conspiracy), Wilby as an adult (both are distract attorneys) and Wilby's father Wilson (both are well intentioned but inept fathers who hate dogs, but eventually love them at the end).
    • Kozak shares some similarities with Francesca's stepfather Dr. Valasky (both travel to a foreign country to steal something valuable to exploit for themselves) and also John Slade (as a corrupt politician).
    • Carly and Josh also share some traits with Wilby (both are talented kids, but their father fails to appreciate their good qualities.)
  • Didn't Think This Through: Attempting to prove her father's client has been experimenting on animals and her teacher is innocent, Carly breaks into Kozak's lab and free the dog that eventually bites her father. At first, she's ecstatic that she's found a dog that Kozak experimented and proving he's a criminal... before realizing she has no proof where the dog came from.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Averted. Shaggy is pretty smart for a canine.
  • In-Name-Only: Aside from a human turning into a sheepdog at weird times, all it has in common with the original is that Dave (a father) hates dogs (like Wilby's father, Wilson in the original) and a conspiracy is afoot. It actually has more in common with the sequel, The Shaggy DA.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifter: The shapeshifting is triggered by his heartrate, which is accelerated when he does dog stuff (like playing fetch). The main character learns to take advantage of this.
  • Take That: From Mother Goose and Grimm.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Frequently throughout the movie with Dave, and her husband Carla.
  • Shout-Out: When jumping off a high place, Tim Allen's character shouts "To infinity... and beyond!"