Making the Grades
Any person with a skeleton in their closet should carefully consider the prudence of pursuing a career in politics. But not Wilby Daniels (Dean Jones). Completely inflamed after being the victim of a two robberies in less than twenty-four hours, the local lawyer throws caution to the wind and announces his intention to run for the office of District Attorney.
The disgruntled Daniels is convinced his community's ever-increasing crime rate is directly related to the tolerant attitudes of the present D.A, Honest John Slade (Keenan Wynn). With his wife (Suzanne Pleshette) and son (Shane Sinutko) by his side, the enthusiastic amateur climbs on his soapbox and makes a campaign promise to clean up the town, starting with investigating the incumbent's connections with known felons.
Anxious to put a muzzle on his up-start opponent, the cigar-smoking Slade determines to dig up any dirt he can find on Daniels. What he gets his paws on is better than anything he could have hoped for.
In his youth, Wilby Daniels had the misfortune of falling under an evil enchantment. Anytime the inscription on an ancient ring was read, he turned into a sheepdog. (This adventure is explained in the prequel, The Shaggy Dog.) Thanks to a theft from the museum, the powerful piece of jewelry is at large, and the old curse is hounding him again.
Once aware of this dark little secret, Slade knows whoever gets the golden ring will win the election. As both parties franticly search, flying pies, gunshots, car chases, and tussles with other canines are just some of the madcap antics to ensue.
The slapstick comedy is enhanced by the addition of Tim Conway. Playing the part of a gullible ice-cream vendor who confuses the transformed Daniels with his pet dog Elwood, Conway's character unwittingly runs interference, and provides much of the movie's humor. He also compensates for cheesy talking mutts and obvious costumes used to create the scenes where a dog drives a car or dons roller-skates.
Although its no surprise the mysteries of the universe are not unraveled here, The Shaggy D.A. does offer some silly fun, a positive family example, the opportunity for good to triumph over evil, and an underdog worth rooting for.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Shaggy D.A..
Parents may enjoy pointing out how times have changed since this movie was made. Check out the size of the radio headphones Brian wears and how much an ice-cream cone costs.