Beware of dog: Good intentions and romcom cliches can’t rescue this slobbery mess from accidental hilarity as a clean-cut ex-con (Jesse Berns) makes amends by learning to be a dog trainer — and falls for his pretty coach (Alaina Kalanj) in the process. Though the actors are American and the dialogue is in English (including that of canine narrator Toby), Southern California-shot “Dog Lover’s Symphony” feels as if an alien species had been studying Hollywood movies for 50 years and tried to make one themselves. Japanese-financed pic’s best chance of success is export to a market where subtitles will mask its overall amateurishness.
Writer/director Ted Fukuda manages just fine when he’s orchestrating montages of pooches prancing to classical music, but when it comes to developing a plausible story, he can’t seem to pull off a single twist without consulting his handbook of old tricks. Fukuda’s tear-jerker manipulation shamelessly contradicts his own “follow your dreams” message. Cast is to be commended for maintaining straight faces in a film sure to elicit howls of laughter. Clumsy camera and sound are on par with the rest.