The Queen's Corgi

 

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A tame Belgian cartoon about the top dog at Buck House proves to be a series of lost opportunities.

   
Queen's Corgi, The

 

Some wishful thinking would seem to have been invested in this lowbrow cartoon from Belgium. How could audiences resist yet another computer-animated feature, particularly one about dogs and the British royal family? There are certainly rich pickings to be found with a canine take of the Windsor household – particularly one involving a visit from Donald and Melania Trump. However, the producers have been at pains to avoid any real censure from either the White or Buck House. Her Majesty is depicted as a kindly, decorous figure, while Prince Philip’s irritations with her infatuation for dogs is largely reined in. The accent is on star names, although Sir Tom Courtenay proves a poor choice to voice The Duke of Edinburgh, and Dame Julie Walters is not much more convincing as the Queen. Far more credible is impressionist Jon Culshaw as Trump, although Kirk Thornton provides the vocals in the American version of the film (under his nom de plume of Ron Allen). When the President manhandles the Queen for a selfie, one’s hopes for scabrous satire are raised, but this is hardly Spitting Image. Fundamentally, this is a cartoon for very young children who like dogs.

 

Jack Whitehall is the voice of Rex, a young Welsh corgi with ideas above his station, who inveigles his way into the Queen’s affections to become her “top dog.” Soon, he is a national icon with his mug printed on mugs, balloons, baseball caps and even toilet brushes. No doubt the film was hoping for its own merchandising bonanza and was giving away free suggestions. But, as in the tradition of the British monarchy, where there’s a favourite, there’s a dissident, and this case it is Charlie, a Machiavellian pooch who sets up Rex’s demise. And so, left to his own devices in the real world, Rex comes to realise that he is no more superior than any other dog.

 

On the one hand, The Queen’s Corgi is startlingly prescient, involving, as it does, the Trump visit to England. On the other, it is rather out-of-date. The Queen’s last corgi, Willow, died last year. Nonetheless, the film does rather exist in a parallel version of reality, in which The Mall borders Regent’s Park, Elizabeth and Philip share a bed and dogs make constant allusions to other movies (Rocky, Fight Club, The Hunger Games). Presumably, the film was hoping to appeal to an older demographic – as well as the infantile – but loses out on both counts. It is a dishearteningly mediocre affair, saddled with limp puns and an ineffectual score from Ramin Djawadi. The PG certificate seems a bit harsh, though – imposed for “mild innuendo and dangerous behaviour” – but the film is nowhere as disquieting as the U-rated Toy Story 4. It is, though, mercifully short.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Voices of  Jack Whitehall, Ray Winstone, Sheridan Smith, Matt Lucas, Tom Courtenay, Julie Walters, Anthony Skordi, Colin McFarlane, Iain McKee, Jon Culshaw.

 

Dir Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot, Pro Ben Stassen, Screenplay John R. Smith and Rob Sprackling, Ed Vincent Kesteloot, Music Ramin Djawadi.

 

Belga Productions/nWave Pictures-Lionsgate.

85 mins. Belgium. 2019. Rel: 5 July 2019. Cert. PG.