Last week, a new film by Deborah Kampmeier, hit theaters. “Hounddog” is a story about a young girl finding sanctuary within music – or at least that’s what the story should have been about. I’ll admit it – I am a sucker for cutesy, heartfelt movies with Southern accents. Plus this one had an amazing cast including Dakota Fanning, Robin Wright Penn, David Morse, Piper Laurie and many more. So when I saw the trailer for “Hounddogs” I was happy to spend my sunny afternoon in a dark theatre. I was ready to walk out of the theatre with that warm feeling and a slight twang in my speech.
But by the end, I wanted Dakota Fanning to get bitten by the snakes that she has some inexplicable cosmic connection with throughout the film. And I never want to hear the song “Hounddog” again. This movie is not “My Girl” and it’s not “Forrest Gump”, but it kind of wants to be both and fails.
Again, I was really rooting for this film. It has a great cast who all play their parts well – Robin Wright Penn, Dakota Fanning, David Morse and Piper Laurie – but it tried to cram too much in to what should have been a simple and strong story: Girl loves Elvis. Elvis comes to town. Girl wants to see Elvis play and runaway with him. Story about what happens.
It’s not a pretty story, in fact it deals with some pretty heavy stuff. Dakota Fanning does a decent job of dealing with the issues and events in this girl’s life – abusive father, rape, alcoholism, povery. But in the telling of the story, the characters role in her life get jumbled, the timeline doesn’t quite work and the influence of all of these characters gets lost in their competition for her attention.
I’ll give it an A for effort, but a B- for the final cut.