The ancient thespian advice about “Never act with small children or dogs” is borne out with a vengeance in “Patrick,” a romantic comedy with no romance and virtually no comedy — save for the dog.
A cute pug, a dog-hating single woman ill-equipped to cope with him and a lot of absolutely lovely English scenery are the calling cards of this sweet little nothing of a movie. “Patrick” never lets us forget, first scene to last, main character to much of her supporting cast, how Ever so English it is.
If only that was enough.
We meet Sarah (Beattie Edmondson of “Bridget Jones’s Baby”) as she’s being dumped by the nerd-beau she just moved in with.
That latest calamity to befall her contributes to her being late for something shortly thereafter — her granny’s funeral. But she’s just in time for the reading of the will.
No, Granny didn’t leave her a valuable bracelet or real estate. She left her Patrick, the pug we’ve seen the little old lady spoil, coddle and indulge in a montage that ends with her collapse at the dog park.
He has a jumper he wears to the dog park, eats only the finest cuts of meat, for which Granny gave him refrigerator privileges, has his every need catered to.
Of course she had a tux for him, which he wears to the funeral.
Hapless Sarah, who can’t keep a boyfriend, has a new flat with a “No Pets” policy and a new job teaching English at Daneman High School– a never-ending disappointment to her well-off parents and over-achiever older-sister — is “bequeathed” this “match made in Hell.”
“Oh, honestly! I could weep!”
She’s the sort of very proper lump who doesn’t know dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, has no clue how to modify bad doggy behavior and babbles away at Patrick as if he understands her very proper Received Pronunciation.
The posh twit.
But Granny thought “They’ll be good for each other,” and that’s that.
The script decrees that Patrick destroy her apartment while she’s away at work, and threaten her lease. He is destined to charm her unruly Grade 11 class as it studies “Jane Eyre” — pretty much for the whole semester. He must be a “babe magnet,” entangling leashes with dog-walking Ben (Tom Bennett) and inspiring gallantry and “You’ll wonder how you ever got along without him” from the handsome and gallant jogger (Ed Skrein) who corrals him after the pug has set off to chase deer through a bigger park.
Turns out the jogger is a veterinarian, and he’s sweet on our Sarah. We think.
“Patrick” is a movie of pointless if not quite insipid montages of Sarah’s life, bonding with Patrick and the sunny, green universe these two live in.
The locations are a bucket-list of English outdoor beauty — Chiswick, London, Buckinghamshire, Windsor in Berkshire and Surrey — parks, riverfronts and rivers, all lending a hand because the script conjures up more complications than romance.
But the dog? He will NOT be upstaged, thank you.
Edmundson takes a good pratfall and Jennifer Saunders, in her SECOND Valentine’s Day romantic comedy (as the Home Ec teacher always handing out botched bake goods from the class) is good for a grin.
Nobody else manages much more than suggesting “warmth.”
The dog’s tricks — toting treats to the shopping basket at the pet supermarket, raiding the fridge — are few. He’s just an adorable prop, designed to instigate the action.
Of which there is so very little that you do wonder if the English will finance, film and buy a cinema ticket for ANYthing that has to do with dogs, Windsor and Surrey.
For a “sweet nothing” of a movie, you kind of wish “nothing” wasn’t the most accurate description.
MPAA Rating: unrated
Cast: Beattie Edmondson, Tom Bennett, Jennifer Saunders, Ed Skrein, Emily Atak, Gemma Jones and Adrian Scarborough
Credits: Directed by Mandie Fletcher, script by Vanessa Davies, Paul de Vos and Mandie Fletcher A Screen Media release.
Running time: 1:34