My Dog Tulip - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

My Dog Tulip Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 9, 2011
"My Dog Tulip" is a bittersweet animated film of J.R. Ackerley's recollections of a dog he owned in the years during and after World War II when he no longer was a young man. But this is not just any dog. It is an Alsatian female, Tulip, that he rescues from a working class family that is apparently incapable of caring for it since they never took it for walks, leaving the dog's social sklls woefully underdeveloped. So dog and owner have their fair share of kinks to work out in their relationshiip but as time wears on and they get to know each other better, things go much smoother.

"My Dog Tulip" is animated in a rough hand drawn style with occasional interludes that are even cruder looking, like they are directly pulled from Ackerley's sketch pad. It is almost as if he is writing the film as we are watching it. The only thing that might trouble potential viewers is the scatalogical details of Tulip's habits which at times definitely feel like too much information.(Also remember that the movie is set in a less civilized time when there were no pooper scooper laws.) Thankfully, this is not played for laughs but used as a way of showing how Tulip communicates with her owner, as she makes her feelings clear. Some of which actually reminded me of the family dog I had when I was growing up. All of which plays well into what the author is saying about the search for the perfect friend which he finds in a dog. But for me, a dog would not be perfect since they still have to be taken care of and looked after and that's not really the basis for any kind of healthy relationship.(Plus, I have killed off plants when I've tried to look after them.) On the other hand, as a friend put it, dogs may ruin your rug but they will not ruin your life, unlike children.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ December 16, 2011
*** out of ****

I've had two dogs so far in my lifetime. The first was named Chatom; I was born and then greeted by his natural warmth. He lived a good fourteen years and then passed away. A few years later; the family got Skipper, his name derived from my mother's flamboyant obsession with boating (skipper, for those who don't know, is just another word for captain).

I loved both dogs; as a good owner should. I'll even admit to having some special sort of connection with each of them, and I'll tell you: the bond shared between a man/woman and his/her dog is a peculiar, fascinating, impeccable one. Given that I've had experience with dogs - as house pets and even as friends - it comes to no surprise that quite a bit of the material covered in "My Dog Tulip" - a wonderful adult animation based on the memoirs of author J.R. Ackerley - resonates with me and the rest of the dog-loving world. It's a bittersweet and often times touching story of a boy - and a very old boy at that - and his dog; told with compassion, humor, and a general understanding of human impulses and emotions.

Since the story is indeed told as if it were a memoir; our narrator is Christopher Plummer, playing the role of Ackerley. He wants to tell us about his dog tulip; an animal that he loved for fifteen pleasant, wonderful, and insightful years. In return for his love towards the animal; the animal also loved him. The relationship is told through a short, sweet, and most definitely to-the-point story that only a guy like Ackerley could tell in the many interesting ways that he does.

For starters, I suppose it's unique that he would tackle the subject of owning - and sharing a life with - a dog with a sharp sense of humor and wit; the kind that could indeed be the sole reason behind why "My Dog Tulip" has touched some and alienated others. Along the way from beginning (Tulip's adoption) to end (Tulip's death); there's jokes about bowel movements, a dog's sexual needs, urination, and of course - dog feces. While some of these things might come off as juvenile, they are presented here as all-too-human; the collective and unfiltered thoughts of the narrator, who Plummer gives the kind of animated personality that such a man would be required to have for this story.

What can I say? I was touched, I suppose. By the end, the story comes full circle; and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least somewhat moved. Having owned that first dog of mine and been with him until the end, I can certainly relate to the kind of companionship that the two central characters here share. My guess is that most people can. But one common criticism, if there are any logical criticisms at all, would be the fact that "My Dog Tulip" also touches on the sad realization that Ackerley found his one love and one friend in that dog; romantic opportunities were everywhere, but he kept denying them, for he treated Tulip as if she were his lover. Therefore, he does not cheat.

The movie is slow, sentimental, and true. It takes us through the good times and the bad times that a dog owner often experiences when caring for their animal of choice; Tulip is not what most would call a "good dog", in fact, the owner is forced to scold the beast rather harshly in some spots; but the thing about us human beings is that we know the value of a dog's unconditional love. You can stop loving a dog; but they shall always love you no matter what. That is how they are; and the best moments in the film are when Tulip shows great affection for her owner. Such moments were, to say the least, easy for a guy like me to identify with.

While I love dogs to death - and also admire the deeply felt story at the center of the film - I can't say I absolutely loved it. I didn't have many problems with it; but if I have one major complaint, it's that "My Dog Tulip" failed to tug at my emotional heartstrings. Not many films can do that anyways, but since the story is so relatable, I kind of expected to be moved on a deeper level than I was. But then again, an emotional reaction is just that; and I felt something. That's probably more than a mainstream audience will ever feel from the movie; since it is unsuitable for them. The animation isn't of the highest quality - perhaps so that the story can step into the spotlight throughout - and the film never quite begs to be resonant. Yet, for those willing to see it through and admire it, there are indeed things to resonate with. "My Dog Tulip" is a gem of an animation that will probably continue to go unnoticed - since it still lies somewhere in obscurity - but I think it deserves attention and I hope that somehow, someday, and in some way; it shall find an audience that truly loves it for what it is.
Super Reviewer
February 11, 2013
Wittily narrated by Plummer this a cartoon that dog-lovers will adore but if you don't really appreciate the bond with your pet you may find it a little boring. The animation is very simple (similar to 'Yellow Submarine') but I found it a nice contrast to Disney and the film has a very British sensibility. The cartoon is an honest account of looking after and loving a pet and so therefore there are lots of scenes of the dog pooing and being on heat. After a while the scenes of trying to find a mate for Tulip begin to drag and the whole thing is probably 20 minutes too long but I still enjoyed it for trying to be different.
Super Reviewer
September 7, 2011
I really enjoyed the raw style of the animations, but this is not the standard heart-string pulling dog story. The story of Tulip is, form the best I can surmise, an allegory to Ackerley's life as a homosexual between WWI and WWII. The story telling and imagery are purposely graphic and insulting to the senses and not suited for children (or dog lovers either).
Super Reviewer
½ December 23, 2010
Nice tale about a man and his dog. A must see for all dog owners.
½ September 13, 2012
My Dog Tulip has interesting animation and realistic, intimate approach, but that approach can get way too graphic, not every dog activity is pleasant or necessary to look at, plus the main character speaks too much, the film definitely needed more silent moments. It is a film that has its warm moments and some relevant things to say, but is not that good in the end because of its approach and execution which is a two-way street.
February 24, 2012
For all dog lovers for its obvious reasons.......
An animation movie for adults, to be precise - for mature adults.
½ May 20, 2012
Touching, and surprisingly not overly sentimental, with a beautifully curious animation style that itself is a character, this film depicts the messier (and, therefore, more accurate) side of pet owning and adoring. If you've ever felt kindred to a canine, particularly a troublesome one, you will appreciate the understated and hilarious poetry contained within. (It also doesn't hurt to be an Anglophile.)
½ December 9, 2011
This movie is often praised for following the book in not avoiding the bodily functions and urges that are inherent to dog-ness. I'd say the movie doesn't just "not avoid" them, it wallows in them - to the detriment of the more meaningful and insightful story.
½ November 18, 2011
Whether you are a dog person or a cat person, the bottom line is you probably enjoy a companion, whatever form that companion may come in. For J.R. Ackerley, it was Tulip, his Alsatian. Ackerley's memoir, on which this film is based, was a bestseller and largely thanks to the droves of people who appreciated his candor on the matters of owning a pet, the good with the bad, and especially the strange. The narrative of the film follows Ackerley as he gets to know his new friend, Tulip, and all the naughty and natural things she does and requires.

The film does not shy away from the honest truth of the situation, it covers every bit of dog ownership in full detail. From the cleaning up of the dog's poop, to her desire to mate, nothing is out of bounds for this film, and that kind of honesty is refreshing. It depicts the natural beauty of that which humans often find taboo or grotesque in a casual matter-of-fact manner. And that is what makes the film work as well as it does. In addition, the unfinished style of the animation mirrors the raw simplicity of the story. It does not surpass 90 minutes and it doesn't have to because the story it is telling is so simple.

Despite the idea of a tale about a man and his dog, told in animated style, the film is not for kids, a sentiment that has been mirrored by droves of other critics. The subject matter is just too forward for kids audiences. Not only that, but the narrative is also very lyrical, describing in detail the every day affairs of Ackerley and his pup. I am sure that these episodes are quite faithful to the memoir, so sure, in fact, that I fear that I needn't seek out the memoir for any further detail. There is often a fuss made when a film changes things to a book, but I fear the opposite here.

The story being told seems much better suited to the memoir form, which means that while it may be interesting, I don't think it lends itself too well to the visual medium, at least not when the adaptation is done in such a bland manner. I really can't complain too much past that minor quibble. It is a well made little film with some really refreshing methods and ideas. It just wasn't something that grabbed me at any point during the film.
September 10, 2010
A marvelous animated feature, full of quiet joy, honest sorrow, wisdom and a wealth of clinical detail both excremental and reproductive, all rendered in a charming style approximating the dog drawings of James Thurber.
August 9, 2011
This short and mostly sweet animated film has a very unique intriguing animation style that favors illustration style over the typical. The film although loses some sweetness through too much effort put into describing the digestive and sexual activities of the dog, even if Christopher Plummer describes the actions in the most proper terms possible.
July 12, 2011
Just forget about some other films you know with dogs, either they're talking or barking. Think about this one, it has I think most animators these days doesn't have or make anymore. "My Dog Tulip", is a masterpiece on it's animation, but the story is we couldn't say an original or repetitive, it's just sentimental for its viewers. I found myself believing that this is based on a true story, and everyone on this film are all real, of course, and also the dog Tulip and it's owner J.Ackerley. The relationship between Mr. Ackerley and the dog is like a married couple, who is married for over 14 yrs., and we know that there are some obstacles that makes these two against each other. As we also know Mr. A, is a writer, but how can he live stable and better if Tulip is always in his side, he tries to give the dog to someone else, but he's gonna feel lonely instead. Also, the animation and the hand drawn style of the film fits to the theme of the movie, it makes it more sad and emotional until to it's final act. The film is told in a narrative way, like reading a novel but with pictures, and that's better than the dog speaking, right?
Well, I think that's pretty much all in "My Dog Tulip". It's very well made, and I think kids will not be impressed by this because it's an adult situation that most kids will not get. And to me, I like it, I like it more than any animated film that I've seen this year, and to that, it's one of the best films of the year, and I guarantee it!
March 8, 2011
The animation might repulse some unexpected viewers but the voices give so much life and vigor in these pencil drawings that it's impossible to get completely enthralled by My Dog Tulip.
½ January 23, 2011
Based on a 1956 memoir of the same name by British writer J.R. Ackerley, "My Dog Tulip" is an animated film about Ackerley's relationship with a German Shepherd named Tulip that he acquired when he was "quite over 50". At the time, Ackerley, a lonely bachelor who wasn't much of a dog-lover, had all but given up on his search for an "ideal friend", which I didn't realize until later actually meant "ideal BOYfriend". Once he adopts the rambunctious 18-month-old Tulip, his life changes completely.

Before I continue, a bit of a disclaimer: I'm very much a dog person. I currently have two dogs of my own and I'm the occasional guardian of two others, including a very handsome German Shepherd like Tulip. I've loved at least four dogs before the current pack, including one other dog of my own and a childhood puppy that was sent to "live on a farm" while I was off at school one day. I tell you this so you'll understand the point of view from which this review is written. If I were on an awards committee in which "Tulip" was a nominee, I'd have to seriously consider recusing myself. End of disclaimer.

Ackerley (voiced by Christopher Plummer), is almost immediately smitten with Tulip, despite her complete lack of social skills due to spending her entire puppyhood confined to a small backyard. He's fascinated by her unbridled enthusiasm for the world around her (which stands in sharp contrast to his own misanthropy) and becomes a keen observer of her behavior on their many walks.

As Ackerley soon finds out, almost everything a dog does in its waking hours involves bodily functions so these become the primary focus of his observations, and indeed, the primary focus of the movie. Tulip often chooses unacceptable places to "leave her deposits" (this is the pre-poop bag era), causing Ackerley to have uncomfortable run-ins with the town's denizens. He also becomes quite interested in Tulip's urination habits, cataloguing both her various styles and favorite targets. But the bulk of the film covers Ackerley's various attempts to breed Tulip.

Before you go all ASPCA on me about the irresponsibility of backyard breeding, let me remind you that standards have changed since the 1940s. I'm not sure why exactly Ackerley is so dead-set on breeding Tulip, but I think it's something along the lines of allowing her to experience the joy of motherhood. In any event, his various attempts to fix her up with a suitable mate are described in great detail, and occasionally border on doggie pornography. The thing is, no matter what it is that Plummer says, it always sounds quite dignified; it's simply not possible for him to sound coarse with his sophisticated English accent.

If I had my druthers, the film would spend less time on breeding than it does, but like the other segments, this too is done with humor and charm. The illustrations of Ackerley fighting off the attention of the male dogs of every shape and size that Tulip attracts when she's in heat are priceless.

In addition to Plummer, two other celebrity voices are also featured: Isabella Rossellini is the voice of a kindly vet who's the first to be able to successfully examine Tulip, declaring that the dog is perfectly well-behaved and Ackerley is the problem. And the late Lynn Redgrave is a riot as Ackerley's abrasive sister Nancy who moves into his apartment to help care for Tulip and tries to win the dog's allegiance by bribing her with treats.

I loved this movie from beginning to end, save for about 10 seconds when I really hated it (another 40s-era shocker reared its ugly head), but I recovered. Even the draggy bits -- the aforementioned mating scenes -- were rendered enjoyable by Plummer's lively narration and the wonderful hand-drawn animation.

Tulip has little in common with her cartoon canine cousins, such as Scooby-Doo and Astro. Though she's animated, the artists perfectly capture the essence and movements of an actual dog. Nor does she ever speak, prefacing each word with the letter "R" or otherwise. She and some of the other dogs are occasionally pictured as two-legged, clothes-wearing creatures in Ackerley's imagination, but that's the extent of the anthropomorphism.

It's rare that I want to see a movie more than once - I don't actually own a single film on DVD or VHS - but I will likely buy this one. I even ordered Ackerley's book when I got home, but it's currently stuck in that mysterious limbo known as USPS "standard shipping".

Anyone who's ever experienced the unconditional love that comes with owning a dog is going to love this film. As for the rest of you, well, maybe it will show you what it is you're missing.
January 9, 2011
My Dog Tulip is a supremely charming piece of animation. The rough, unfinished-looking sketch style is beautiful and odd; it sometimes feels a bit like an epileptic flip-book, and I mean that in a completely complimentary way. The funny notebook page portions are especially enjoyable, when Tulip is personified to the point of hilarity to great effect.

This is a movie that anyone can enjoy but that is especially affecting for dog lovers such as myself. The film focuses in on aspects of dog life such as pooping inappropriate places and trying to get pregnant. It's a different approach to a somewhat familiar subject, and the connection between the owner (perfectly voiced by Christopher Plummer) and Tulip comes through in unexpected ways. Even more surprising, the obligatory passing of the titular pet is handled in an way that is anything but manipulative. Instead, it's presented as an inevitable fact in life, the literal ending of a friendship that defines a life in funny, subtle ways.
½ January 8, 2011
Roger Ebert spoke very highly about this film last week, so I decided to check it out as I hadn't seen many good animated films in 2010. Sure this one is from 2009, but it first opened in a lot of cinemas in 2010. Personally I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as Ebert did, although I thought it was pretty good and probably on my top 5 for animated films in 2010. It's an artful, lonely and melancholic animated film that is meant for adults more than kids.
September 22, 2010
This is a very adult animated film based on J. R. Ackerly's book from the late 60s. A precursor to the Marley and Me story with a twist. From the author's relationship with Tulip, we gain insight into a very isolated and clueless man. A very solitary man he is and perhaps imposes too much meaning onto Tulip's natural needs. Christopher Plummer narrates and Lynn Redgrave adds her voice to the mix. It turns out to be her last film. Can I say that this movie moved me? No unfortunately I saw a person filled with loneliness and had an inability to deal with life, ; he did not even understand that perhaps it was best not to breed Tulip. He should have been out there to try to get into the ring of life and find his romance. Tulip was an adorable dog and beautifully drawn. The artwork reminded me of the New Yorker magazine of the 60s, then it would swing into doodles that were actually on lined paper. The bestial relationship implied throughout the psycholoanalitical approach sometimes caused you to wonder about your own relationship to your pet and the world around you. For that reason it might be interesting to see this movie. There's a lot of humor in the poop and the in heat category. So have fun!!
September 7, 2010
A lovely and endearing animated film for adults, an adaptation of an actual memoir. The genuine emotion and investment that comes through in the animation is remarkable, especially considering it was all done in TVPaint. It's a must-see for all dog owners and dog lovers.
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