Dean Spanley (My Talks with Dean Spanley) 2008

Dean Spanley

Critics Consensus

Offbeat, whimsical, period-set shaggy dog story with daffy performances from Sam Neill and Peter O'Toole.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 972

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Movie Info

After attending a talk on reincarnation by a visiting swami (Art Malik), sickly Horatio Fisk (Peter O'Toole), who is still grieving over the death of his eldest son, and his youngest son, Henslowe (Jeremy Northam), meet the charismatic Dean Spanley (Sam Neill) and the businessman Wrather (Bryan Brown). Horatio and Dean become fast friends and meet up frequently for dinner. Dean, though, is no ordinary guest. He claims to be the reincarnation of a dog, which only intrigues Horatio more.

Cast & Crew

Sam Neill
Dean Spanley
Judy Parfitt
Mrs. Brimley
Art Malik
Swami Nala Prash
Alan Harris
Producer
Karl Zohrab
Co-Producer
Finola Dwyer
Executive Producer
David Parfitt
Executive Producer
Simon Fawcett
Executive Producer
Alan Sharp
Executive Producer
Leon Narbey
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Dean Spanley (My Talks with Dean Spanley)

Critic Reviews for Dean Spanley (My Talks with Dean Spanley)

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (4)

  • Fraser and Sharp have structured the film, and the cast interpret it, so that comedy and poignancy are intertwined to the last; even as all is revealed, a sense of wonder remains.

    March 6, 2009 | Full Review…
  • This nicely acted drama, in quietly intimating the quirky familial relations and peculiar fascinations of the era - not least with the transmigration of souls, mysticism and the supernatural - delivers a highly pleasurable if modest experience.

    December 12, 2008 | Rating: 4/6 | Full Review…

    Wally Hammond

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • I can't see too many children taking advantage of the U certificate. The measured performances look stiff and theatrical. A stifling fable with the rhythm of a grandfather clock.

    December 12, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • This is a charming and eccentric little family comedy for the older generation. It's like a Werther's Original sweet that's for grandpa only.

    December 12, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • In Dean Spanley Peter O'Toole, luminous of eye and loopy of intonation, acts as if he should be locked up. You have to admire the cut of his lunacy. He brings what little style there is to this winsome tale adapted from Lord Dunsany.

    December 12, 2008 | Full Review…
  • The only drawback to its fey shaggy-dog story is the ponderous pace. But Northam and Neill are both on good form.

    December 12, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dean Spanley (My Talks with Dean Spanley)

  • May 15, 2013
    Peter O'Toole adds to his legacy by boring us to death in Dean Spanley
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 02, 2011
    What a pleasant surprise this movie turned out to be. It's a wonderful and lovely little movie. And it's a movie that could have been pretty goofy if not handled correctly. But instead, it's handled expertly with a lot of intelligence and charm. The acting is fantastic. Peter O'Toole is out of this world, there's this scene near the end when Sam Neill's character is telling his story and Peter's facials while hearing this story were just amazing. This might sound corny, but his eyes told a story that was heartbreaking, yet at the same time full of closure for his character. The final act of the movie, overall, is just fantastic. It's touching, sweet and funny. Also I must give Sam Neill a lot of credit for his performance, it must not be easy, at least as far as preparation, to play a man who was a dog in a previous life and almost all of his dialogue would consist of memories of his life as a dog. How the FUCK do you prepare for that??? I don't know, but Sam Neill pulled it off and convincingly as well, so thumbs up. Shitty review, but this is an excellent movie. It's funny, off-beat, and touching with some amazing performances. I HIGHLY recommend this movie, not like that means a hell of a lot.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Mar 27, 2011
    Based on a book by Irish fantasy pioneer Lord Dunsany (1878-1957), this tale of a dog reincarnated as an Anglican clergyman is oddly winsome, despite a few moments that veer dangerously close to goofy. Toa Fraser keeps the silliness mostly at bay by making full comic use of his excellent cast ? including Peter O'Toole, Jeremy Northram, Bryan Brown and Sam Neill ? and grounds the story in the truly poignant father-and-son relationship at its heart. Set in Edwardian England, the sets are lush and everyone looks to be having a good time. In fact, O'Toole appears almost gleeful in his portrayal of a stuffed-shirt curmudgeon who recovers a boyish capacity for warmth. It's one of several fine turns, but to see a master in the twilight of his career play a man accepting his own losses and failures is undeniably affecting ? the other gentlemen step back as his performance lifts the story to another level. It is a comedy of manners and oh-so-clever wordplay that reeks of Oscar Wilde smugness but settles for lengthy analyses of canine customs and thought processes. Enjoy!
    Ovi G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 22, 2010
    i did really want to love this movie but i can only say i liked this movie! I tried watchng it 3 times and i still didnt get to the end as it really is my sort of movie!! i liked it because the story is original and it is sweet and like the story but it was just a litltle boring for me! It is funny in plces and sam neill is gorgouse as ever!!
    Film C Super Reviewer

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