By Don Simpson | October 22, 2010
Director: Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger
Writers: Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger (screenplay), J. R. Ackerley (novel)
Starring: (voice) Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave, Isabella Rossellini, Brian Murray, Paul Hecht, Euan Morton
J.R. Ackerley (Christopher Plummer) is not a dog lover at the moment when — nearing 50 — he adopts Tulip, an 18-month-old Alsatian. Ackerley lives in a small Putney flat overlooking the Thames (where he lived the final 25 years of his life) and Tulip plows into his life and home with reckless abandon, a wild and uncontrollable ball of energy. Tulip grows quite fond of Ackerley and slowly but surely begins to settle down. Ackerley — a gay man beyond his days of cruising for dates — finds Tulip to be his ideal companion; in fact, during their 14 years together, Tulip turns out to be the one true love of Ackerley’s life.
My Dog Tulip reveals an author who is not the least bit timid or embarrassed to ruminate quite lengthily about his dog’s bowel movements or his grand desire to locate a suitable mate for Tulip. These strange quirks and obsessions add a unique level of realism to the story — adapted from Ackerley’s 1956 book, an account of Ackerley’s relationship with his real-life Alsatian Queenie.
At times, My Dog Tulip feels like Plummer is merely narrating a book on tape with The New Yorker cartoon style images moving around onscreen, but little flashes of absurdity (such as Plummer’s musical number in which he croons “You smell my ass, I smell yours” and strange anthropomorphic sequences in which Tulip walks on her hind legs and wears clothes) push the film into a much more visually interesting realm.
Written, directed and animated by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, My Dog Tulip is the first animated feature ever to be entirely hand drawn and painted utilizing paperless computer technology.