Co-producers, Roderick Spencer, Stacy Leah Winkler.

Co-producers, Roderick Spencer, Stacy Leah Winkler.

Directed, written by Paul Duran. Camera (color), Dean Lent; editor, Julie Rogers; music, Joey Altruda; production designer, Teri Whittaker; costume designer, Pamela Shaw; casting, Jennifer Fishman, Michael Hirshenson. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival, Jan. 16, 2000. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: Will Stewart, Stepfanie Kramer, Tony Todd, John Randolph, Allan Rich, Stacey Williams, Carol Gustafson, Nicki Aycox.

There’s an infectious, spry quality to much of “The Dogwalker,” an indie that benefits from amusing characters, strong thesping and taut situational humor. Tale of an opportunistic young man who finds himself the caretaker of an elderly lady’s dog nearly has the chops to break out of the festival circuit, but it’s hampered by an ending that reps a drastic, unwelcome shift from light humor to tragedy.

Down-on-his-luck Jerry (Will Stewart) literally stumbles across cranky septuagenarian Alma (Carol Gustafson) and her pooch. The accidental encounter leads to a new job when Alma’s daughter Helen (Stepfanie Kramer) hires him to look after her mother and the dog. But Jerry gets more than he bargained for, including attitude from Alma, sexual advances from Helen and her precocious teenage daughter (Nicki Aycox) and eccentric requests from a trio of elderly bridge-playing suitors. Enlisting three African-American friends to help with his responsibilities, Jerry incites clashes over race, sex, drugs and family. An ill-calculated decision by one of Jerry’s pals casts a pall over the proceedings , turning what could have been a tasty beef hash into a plate of Alpo.

The Dogwalker

Production

A Rita Films production in association with Soundelux Entertainment Group and Bouquet Multimedia. Produced by Vera Anderson. Executive producers, Lon Bender, Wylie Stateman, Stanton Kaye, Terry Myers.
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