Formulaic and hackneyed it may be, but 'Firehouse Dog' is far from the worst wet Saturday afternoon's entertainment for kids. This is a family-friendly, one-boy-and-his-dog film that shouldn't offend anyone.
Pampered Hollywood star Rexxx (played by a quartet of Irish terriers), the star of films like 'The Fast and the Furrious' and 'Jurassic Bark', gets accidentally separated from his trainer Trey (Mihok) while performing a dangerous stunt. Taken in by the Dogpatch firehouse, he becomes the unwanted responsibility of troubled 12-year-old Shane (Hutcherson), the son of firehouse captain Connor (Greenwood). But life ain't happy in Dogpatch. Connor and Shane are at odds with each other, the station is under threat of closure, the staff are demoralised and there seems to be an arsonist on the loose.
While Trey mourns his mate, the dog is working on becoming a member of the team, helping to rescue people on fire callouts, tidying up Shane's room, Mary Poppins-style, and expressing his eloquent opinion of the firehouse cook's food. As the father-son reconciliation gets into gear, the other subplots - a satire on Hollywood celebrity, rivalry with a neighbouring firecrew and the motives of the mysterious arsonist - don't really seem to matter as the film determinedly forges ahead to manufacture a happy resolution for all involved.
Without animation or headlining stars, this gentle entertainment may well be overshadowed in cinemas by 'Shrek the Third' or 'The Ugly Duckling and Me' but there are more than enough wet afternoons this summer to ensure that it still finds an audience.