|Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Pierre DeCelles|
|Edited by||John Blizek|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw is a 1988 American animated musical comedy-adventure film distributed by TriStar Pictures. The film is based on the Tonka toy line and Hanna-Barbera television series of the same name. It was directed by Pierre DeCelles, and stars the voices of Brennan Howard, B.J. Ward and Tony Longo. This was the only Carolco film completely animated to date.
The Legend of Big Paw was the last theatrically released animated feature from the late 1980s to promote a major toy line, a common trend in the American cartoon industry during that time. The film had received negative reviews from critics and movie fans alike during its original release in 1988, and therefore, the film was a box office disaster.
Whopper is taking his niece and nephew to the museum. Along the way, he tells them the origin of Puppy Power, the ability of humankind to understand the Pound Puppies and Purries. In the Dark Ages (specifically 958 AD), a young boy named Arthur and his dog Digalot came across a stone which contained both the mythical sword Excalibur and the magical Bone of Scone. While Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, Arthur's dog Digalot pulled the Bone of Scone from the same stone, and soon afterward Arthur discovered that the dog could talk. Sir McNasty, who had witnessed the withdrawal of Excalibur and the Bone and Arthur's coronation as King of England, planned to conquer the world by retrieving the Bone. However, it was kept hidden by the giant guardian, Big Paw.
Later in 1958 the Bone of Scone is in a museum in an unnamed American city. Tammy and Jeff are the owners of the pound and hold a press conference and announce that the pound will be holding an adoption bazaar. A descendant of the original McNasty shows up and states he wishes to adopt the puppies. Tammy and Jeff inform him that he has to sign adoption papers. The pup finds out what McNasty is going to do with the four puppies. With his Mean Machine, McNasty will transform them and the rest of the Pound into vicious guard dogs, steal the Bone of Scone from the museum, and use its power and his army of dogs to conquer the world. Soon, Collette and Whopper escape from their cage inside McNasty's laboratory, and briefly reunite with the rest of the Puppies. However, Lumpy and Bones snatch them back. The Puppies give chase, but nearly all of them end up in a rat-infested cave, hanging on a rope, before the Purries pull them up to safety. The Puppies and Purries continue looking for their friends. When they get caught in a patch of mire, they are saved by the legendary Big Paw, who agrees to find the Bone with them. Later, McNasty's henchmen transform the Puppies into guard dogs, save for Cooler. Big Paw brings him and the Purries back to town to stop the evil trio, as the trio's truck heads to the Pound.
Big Paw and Cooler chase McNasty and his henchmen all over town and eventually back to the museum and their Mean Machine, which turns them into good men, but not before the Puppies are all turned back to normal. Big Paw and Nose Marie finally get back the Bone of Scone.
Whopper and his niece and nephew Puplings find themselves in the museum. The Bone of Scone has returned for another visit, and Whopper introduces Big Paw as a little surprise for the young ones, who did not believe before that he was real. As long as he is here to protect the Bone, Whopper says, Puppy Power will never be lost again.
The music for The Legend of Big Paw was directed by Steve Tyrell, with the original score composed by Richard Kosinski, Sam Winans, Bill Reichenbach Jr., Ashley Hall and Bob Mann. The film's six songs, which are influenced by popular songs and standards from the 1950s and after,:209 were composed by Ashley Hall and Steve Tyrell, written by Stephanie Tyrell, and recorded at the Tyrell-Mann and Tempo Recording Studios in Los Angeles.
|"At the Pound"||Based on "At the Hop" by David White, Arthur Singer and John Medora||Ashley Hall|
|"Now That You're Here"||Ashley Hall||Cathy Cavadini|
|"The King of Everything"||Based on "Riot in Cell Block Number 9"; Ashley Hall and Steve Tyrell||George Rose|
|"All in Your Mind"||Based on "Who Do You Love?"; Ashley Hall and Steve Tyrell||Ashley Hall|
|"I'm a Puppy Too"||Based on "Duke of Earl" by Earl Edwards, Eugene Dixon and Bernice Williams||Mark Vieha|
|"Puppy Power's Back"||Based on "Jailhouse Rock"; Ashley Hall and Steve Tyrell||Cast|
Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw was produced by Carolco Pictures and Atlantic/Kushner-Locke along with The Maltese Companies, financed by Tonka, the original owners of the Pound Puppies franchise, and distributed by TriStar Pictures. The film's director, Pierre DeCelles, was also an art director and directing storyboard artist during production.
According to DeCelles, the film took 5½ months to complete, starting in the fall of 1987. The first 2½ months were spent on preparing its layouts and storyboards, and the remaining time on the animation, backgrounds and shooting. The overseas work was done by Wang Film Productions and Cuckoo's Nest Studio, two Taiwanese companies known for their contributions to children's animated television series.
The film's animation and character design were different from what was featured in the Hanna-Barbera series, and did not contribute to the latter's continuity. A new set of characters were introduced for the film: Pound Puppies Collette, Beamer, and Reflex, and the Pound Purries Hairball and Charlamange, along with two teenagers, Tammy and Jeff, that replaced the 11-year-old Holly.
During its short run in theaters, The Legend of Big Paw played mainly in matinees and only grossed US$586,938. It is Carolco's only family film and was also distributor TriStar's only animated feature until 2001's The Trumpet of the Swan. The film was among the last in a line of 1980s animated productions for the big screen which featured established toy properties as their main characters. Previous examples included movies that were based on the Care Bears, My Little Pony and Transformers.:xv-xx
Family Home Entertainment, a division of International Video Entertainment, the distributor of Carolco's films, released Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw on the VHS format on September 14, 1989. Its successor, Lionsgate, released the film on DVD in the United States on October 24, 2006. Like the Hanna-Barbera TV show before it, the film also aired on the Disney Channel during the early to mid-1990s. The 26th anniversary of this movie was finished on March 18, 2014. A Blu-ray release of this movie has yet to be released.
Critical response to The Legend of Big Paw was negative during its theatrical run. The Hollywood trade magazine, Variety, called it "uninvolving and endlessly derivative".:209The Sacramento Bee deemed it "miserably drawn" in comparison to what Disney was offering at the time, and the San Francisco Chronicle gave it an "empty chair" rating. A reviewer in the Detroit Free Press found it "dull and unoriginal", but praised the songs that were written for it.
Martha Baker of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also denounced it and began her review thus:
If you're in your 40th year and not your fourth, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw requires the extra dosage of insulin reserved for such treks into celluloid and commercial [sweetness]. But even 4-year-olds have trouble swallowing this cartoon whole.
Writing for The Animated Movie Guide by animation expert Jerry Beck, Stuart Fisher gave the film one star out of four, and saw the film's artistic quality as "a mixed bag". "[While] the backgrounds are somewhat imaginative and colorful, the character animation is flat and lifeless. Rapid cuts to new angles of the same shot seem to try to cover up limitations of the animation technique," he continued.:209 Moreover, Fisher and The Philadelphia Inquirer took note of its purpose as a toy commercial, a trend that was prevalent in the animation industry during the late 1980s.