1989, NR, 82 min. Directed by Jerome Bolvin.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 14, 1991
Baxter, a white bull terrier who manages to look both intimidating and cute at the same time, is a dog capable of rational thought. Bolvin's film follows this strange little animal as he is shuttled from one home into the next, continuously searching for the perfect master, one that will think as he does: in cold, calculating animal logic. Baxter's first master is an old woman who dotes on him alarmingly as she begins a descent into senility. She buys him a little bed, tries to get him to take baths with her, and eventually, as her madness progresses, refuses even to let him journey outside of the house. This is all too much for Baxter, and before you can say "it's a dog's life," the old woman is dead, her neck broken at the bottom of the stairs. Did Baxter do it? Probably, but Bolvin leaves the answer to that intentionally vague. His next home is across the street with a young pair of newlyweds. At first, Baxter is delighted with his new masters: they have the perfect smell and allow him to run about the yard as much as he pleases. Soon, however, a child is born, and their interest in the dog dwindles alarmingly. Baxter finds himself eyeing this new addition to the family with contempt, and soon decides to get rid of it. His plan fails though, and suddenly Baxter has a new master: a quiet, dark-haired young boy obsessed with the lives of Hitler and Eva Braun. This, finally, is the right one for the dog. The boy teaches him to sit, to heel, and later, to attack. "He commands, I obey," Baxter thinks to himself, content in his new-found fascism. Baxter, like its bullet-snouted star, is a tight, wiry little film, by turns both comic and chilling. His canine logic is disturbingly cool and animalistic; he seems to think like a junk-bondsman or some deranged CPA. Baxter goes where Benji and Lassie (and even Rin-Tin-Tin, for that matter) fear to tread, and in doing so, reveals exactly why your mailman should be afraid.