For the Love of Benji (1977)

59% – Audience

For the Love of Benji Storyline

Benji sniffs out a bogus CIA agent in Athens, Greece.

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For the Love of Benji Photos

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Englishsubtitle For.the.Love.of.Benji.1977.1080p.BluRay.REMUX.AVC.FLAC.2.0-EPSiLON
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For the Love of Benji Movie Reviews


“Benjean”, a.k.a. “Benji”, carries on the tradition established by her father Higgins for the original family classic that bore the “Benji” name. This time, the adorable canine is going on a vacation in Greece with her young masters Cindy and Paul (Cynthia Smith and Allen Fiuzat) and their housekeeper Mary (Patsy Garrett). (The father is supposed to be joining them in a weeks’ time.) However, a sly secret agent (guest star Ed Nelson) grabs Benjis’ carrier before it can be loaded onto the plane, and tattoos a formula onto the dogs’ paw. Then, everybody’s plans go awry when Benji (and his female companion Tiffany) miss a connecting flight. Benji ends up scampering all over Greece as characters try to locate him and then hold on to him.

“For the Love of Benji” does travel far on the winning personality of the little canine star, who, like her dad, is able to express emotions quite well. The plot is a little more “grown up” than in the first film, with even higher stakes, and there are moments that may be unpleasant for younger viewers. (Like seeing Benji immobilized with chloroform.) The exotic locale does add a lot to the experience, and although the abundance of Greek dialogue is not subtitled, you’ll find that it’s not that necessary. You can still get the gist of what people are saying. The film is never more engaging than when it follows little Benjean and her many adventures. She makes a friend in a bigger dog (an obvious stray), who is endeared to her when she shares some purloined meat with them. And later, this dog character is paid off when a Doberman is pursuing Benjean and this other dog comes to the rescue.

The human cast is just fine, with Nelson never coming off as too intimidating for younger kids. However, they’ll instinctively understand, seeing him through Benjis’ eyes, that he’s a bad man. Returning actors Garrett, Smith, and Fiuzat are appealing, but they are not a big part of the story this time around. Art Vasil, Peter Bowles, and Bridget Armstrong are solid in supporting roles.

Likeable, well-paced, action-packed family fare punctuated by one of those irresistibly cute, precious wrap-ups certain to have viewers sobbing into their hankies.

Followed by “Oh, Heavenly Dog!” in 1980.

Seven out of 10.

Run, Benji, Run!

This second film consists mostly of scenes of Benji running. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The first Benji film consisted mostly of scenes of Benji running, too, but it was quite good. This follow-up isn’t as good, but for other reasons.

On the positive side, returning writer/director Joe Camp stuck with something unusual that he did in the first film–he did the film from a dog’s point of view. That doesn’t mean that the film is in first person from Benji’s perspective. Imagine more a dog directing. The content, kinds of shots and kinds of angles are mostly what a dog might do. It made the first film, with its very unusual structure, a success, and it more or less makes this one, which also has an unusual structure, well, not exactly a success, but it makes it “kinda work”.

A couple factors bring the success rate down a bit. The story takes place in Greece this time–in a move that seems like maybe the crew and cast wanted a paid vacation in Greece–and a lot of dialogue is in Greek, without subtitles. Although interesting for adults, that’s a particularly odd move for a family film, and the goal here is definitely to make a family film–Camp even announces this at the very beginning on screen.

Also odd for a family picture, most of the human-sourced interaction in the film features people attacking or chasing Benji–with chloroform, with meat cleavers, with fruit, with a big mean Doberman, and with guns. Not that it’s graphic in any way, but the concept is there, and Benji’s running is mostly precipitated by unfriendly people chasing him.

There is a complex plot involving scientific research, where they want to use Benji for nefarious goals, and where Benji seems to be world-famous, all of which is never explained very well. Heck, most of the dialogue about this is in Greek, although the science-oriented stuff is very sketchily explained in English at the end. Benji being so well-known is never explained.

And a final problem–even though the first film was also as if directed by a dog, there were important human characters who had some depth to them. That’s not the case here. Benji’s owners are hardly in the film and the villains are almost completely non-developed the short amount of time that they’re in the film.

So we’re left primarily with Benji running and running through Greece. Through airports. Through the city streets. Just outside of the city near some ancient ruins. The scenery is nice and nicely shot, Benji does some neat trained actions, and insofar as Camp explores everyday dog stuff, the film is rewarding. Heck, the chased-by-villains scenes are pretty rewarding, too, even if plotwise, you don’t know exactly what’s going on or why it’s going on.

This may be the worst Benji film (and I don’t know yet, since I’m just rewatching them now after not seeing them for many years), and it may not be a great film for kids for a couple reasons, but it is still very mildly recommendable, especially for fans of Benji films and animal films in general, or for anyone who wants a glimpse of what Greece was like in 1977. It’s also amusing to note how much Benji looks like Ron Wood.

Cute, Fun Movie, Good for Kids

I enjoyed For the Love of Benji. It was a cute, fun movie. A Good, Clean Family Film by Joe Camp. I actually liked this, the second Benji film, better than the first one. The plot here was pretty much laughable, but Benji movies aren’t about that, they’re about letting Benji charm. And that he does. A very good performance here by Benji. You’ll laugh, but the dog’s work is literally better than a Steven Segal performance I had the misfortune of seeing recently. Also, the film has nice music and lots of pretty Greece scenery. It may help to have seen the first Benji to familiarize yourself with some of the characters.

Check it out and Have a Doggone Good Time! (Sorry 🙂