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Hounddog (2008)



Average Rating: 3.6/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 46

Despite a noble effort from Dakota Fanning, Hounddog is overwrought, cliche-ridden and downright exploitative.


Average Rating: 3.4/10
Critic Reviews: 24
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 20

Despite a noble effort from Dakota Fanning, Hounddog is overwrought, cliche-ridden and downright exploitative.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 15,273

My Rating

Movie Info

A precocious but troubled young girl living in 1950s-era Alabama seeks solace in the music of Elvis Presley in director Deborah Kampmeier's controversial tale of childhood trauma and musical healing. An air of repression lingers over the home of spirited youngster Lewellen (Dakota Fanning), who finds both comfort in the music of pop sensation Presley, as well as a place to store her pain and anger. In time Lewellen begins to find her own voice, a voice that will instill her with the strength to


Musical & Performing Arts, Drama

Deborah Kampmeier

Mar 10, 2009

Empire Film Group - Official Site External Icon

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Hounddog Redux: Dakota Fanning Film Recut
The recut version is tighter, leaner, and puts more focus on the arcs of the characters; more...


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All Critics (56) | Top Critics (24) | Fresh (8) | Rotten (46) | DVD (2)

The whole distasteful mess is sunk up to its neck in a brew of Southern Gothic atmosphere and hocus-pocus sentimentality.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Only Fanning's emotional honesty makes Hounddog watchable.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If there's a Southern-gothic cliché (oh, those snakes!) that writer-director Deborah Kampmeier misses, I don't know it.

September 26, 2008
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A slow procession of degradation and suffering, Hounddog is like a tall glass of bitter iced tea.

September 25, 2008 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The latest wallow in regional cliche and stereotype.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The clichés are thick as the kudzu in 1956 Alabama.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hounddog boasts a distinctive wood-and-emerald look and several crackerjack performances.

October 31, 2008 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun discomfiting as you've heard, yet there is one moment near the end that nearly saves it.

October 8, 2008 Full Review Source: LarsenOnFilm

Fanning resembles an acting robot: stick a quarter in her head and she'll dial up any reaction in the book, absent the needed gravitas.

October 2, 2008 Full Review Source:

We're seeing Fanning in soaking wet white underwear playing in the river, gyrating like Elvis. That's worse that an exploitative rape scene. This is just the filmmakers deciding to depict salacious behavior.

September 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Can Magazine
Can Magazine

It's hard to take this wild mixture of sledgehammer symbolism, period Southern Gothic, race-conscious uplift and cautionary coming-of-age parable seriously, despite Fanning's remarkable poise.

September 24, 2008 Full Review Source: One Guy's Opinion
One Guy's Opinion

The only lesson is that if you're a child of the south, you better get yourself adopted by Yankees.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: I.E. Weekly
I.E. Weekly

A handsomely produced but unintentionally risible film that mistakes high grotesquerie for high gothic.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Kampmeier takes everything from the Flannery O'Connor school of Southern Gothic, tosses in cringe-worthy dialogue, and throws in not one but two horrible archetypes for good measure.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Premiere Magazine
Premiere Magazine

Instead of embracing its pulpy nature, it aims for seriousness, then gives us cornpone performances, a lightning bolt that triggers a tractor's ejector seat, and a simple-minded view of saintly black folk who possess a dangerous blues.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

The rape scene is disturbing, but it's not as surprising as the movie's unreconstructed racial attitudes or its deadpan cartoon portrayal of the lightning-struck, rattlesnake-bit, tick-infested white-trash denizens of the humid 1950s Deep South.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Audience Reviews for Hounddog

Dakota Fanning's luminescent performance grounds this lonely, sordid trip to the rural 1950s South enough to overcome the numerous and cliched stereotypes in this dark tale of a poor country girl innocently obsessed with Elvis.
April 5, 2012

Super Reviewer

A young girl grows up in the South with her damaged father, dysfunctional grandmother, and a looming sexuality.
I think this film gets a star knocked off as a penalty for its disappointment. I like Dakota Fanning in her dramatic roles more than her saccharine family comedies, and David Morse is always extraordinary. But there are so many flaws in this film that I almost can't get my head around all of them. First - the snakes. The opening credits, the connective tissue, and a supporting character are all obsessed with these menacing, phallic creatures slithering this way and that, and the image gets to be a tired, worn cliche by the end of the film if it wasn't already a cliche before the first frame.
Second, David Morse's character begins the film as a force, a menace, an ever-present threat, and if you've seen or heard any press for this film, then you know why it's "controversial," and you're probably expecting Morse to be the source of the controversy, which would a scene of such brutality, such a mismatched mesh of horror - Fanning with her slight demeanor and Morse the towering giant. But midway through the first act, Daddy is struck by lightning. Yes, you read that right: he's struck by lightning. And the source of the film's dooming, gothic ambiance is turned into a simple, bowl-cutted idiot.
Finally, Robin Wright Penn's character begins the film as a passing stranger, but I can almost hear the writers, midway through the third act, thinking, "Hmm: maybe we should take her character seriously."
Yes, Fanning is wonderful, adapting to the damaged Lewellen like the fantastic actress she already is (I can't imagine what a force she might become), and Morse does his best with what he's been given, but overall, this is truly bad storytelling and even worse filmmaking.
October 8, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Have been wanting to see this for ages, but doesn't seem to be getting released over here (anytime soon, anyhow), so ended up ordering the DVD from the US. I was surprised to see it was deleted already and had to buy it from a private seller. It is almost like this film is too shocking for some people and is being made to disappear.
Well, obviously it is not a nice topic, a coming of age story about a young girl, played by Dakota Fanning, who's lives with her alcoholic father, who may or may not be abusive, and her extremely religious Grandmother who is just oblivious to a lot of things. Music is her outlet and when she hears Elvis is coming to town, her and a friend come up with a questionable plan to score tickets, which leads to a tragedy.
Dakota, as always is fantastic. I have a whole new respect for her as an actress after watching this, although I have always liked her. She plays plucky Lewellen with such strength and truth that this almost ends up being an inspiring story. (Almost).
June 14, 2010

Super Reviewer

    1. Buddy: Guess what I've heard?
    2. Lewellen: What?
    3. Buddy: Guess!
    4. Lewellen: No, tell me.
    5. Buddy: I've heard that Elvis is comin' to town.
    6. Lewellen: Elvis is comin' to town.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 months ago)
    1. Lewellen: It's for your face.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 months ago)
    1. Granny: I've heard that you're talkin' to someone. Who are you talkin' to?
    2. Lewellen: Nobody.
    3. Granny: It better not have been one of those boys wantin' to do evil things with you.
    4. Lewellen: No, ma'am.
    5. Granny: Plenty of time for you to grow up and do all kinds of evil, but I just want you to be good while you still can. Gotta long time before you need to be growin' up.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 months ago)
    1. Lewellen: Who are you? Where my daddy?
    2. Strange Lady: He's in the can. He'll be out in a minute.
    3. Lewellen: Who's the stranger lady?
    4. Daddy: We, uh, we were waitin' for you to watch Elvis.
    – Submitted by Alyssa B (2 months ago)
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