Los Angeles, CA - In a film that Hollywood insiders are terming "the shock of the century", Benji, widely acknowledged as the world's cutest canine, will have his swan song. The new movie, "Benji Off the Leash" is scheduled for release on August 20. Parents, teachers and ministers are advised to prepare now for what will surely be a traumatic time.
The film, set in suburban Los Angeles, recounts the final days of Benji. The title takes its name from the mishap which sets off the entire misadventure. In a misguided attempt to make Benji happy, his current owner, eleven year old Colby (played by Nick Whitaker), mistakenly lets Benji free in a neighborhood park. Chasing a chipmunk leads Benji through one misfortune after another culminating in a scene of such intense tragedy that the movie was originally rated NC-17.
Director Joe Camp, while defending the artistic merits of the original version, made some cosmetic changes to the climatic scene to secure a G rating. "I think that the power of the movie is preserved," said Camp. "The final scene as originally shot, as well as several outtakes, will be included on the DVD version. The theatrical release needed to be toned down for the distributors."
When asked the provide details on the films finale and the passing of the playful pup, Camp leapt at the opportunity. "So first, I thought, ‘hey, wouldn't it be funny to have Benji riding on a skateboard, then hit a fire hydrant and fly into a wood chipper'," he explained, "It would be just like in Fargo.
"Next we thought of having him make it all the way to San Diego," Camp continued, "where he would be killed by Shamu; but the people at Sea World thought that would hurt their image. Then we considered a heroic death, where Benji struggles to make it home just in time to find Colby trapped in a fire. Benji runs into the house to save him but, alas, he it too small to do anything but become a ‘hot dog' - get it."
Mr. Camp recounted several of these types of scenarios, taking an often unhealthy glee in describing how Benji would be crushed, burned, trampled, eviscerated, poisoned, eaten, shot, stabbed, gored, blown up, frozen or otherwise destroyed, "We had some killer ones that we couldn't use," continued Camp, "but we still came up with a gem. I don't want to spoil the surprise though; you'll have to see the movie for yourself."
ASPCA President Ed Sayres was quite distressed when told of the plans for this film. "Benji is an American institution," said Sayers, "Not some floppy moffit to be used as the butt of this kind of sick joke. If this pathetic brand of animal-hating humor were all that was involved it would be bad enough, but there is more."
The more that Mr. Sayres refers to is the potential impact on children of seeing ‘America's dog' killed in any of the ways Mr. Camp described. "We're talking trauma with a capital T," continued Sayers, "There are going to be some very upset kids out there and we need to protect them from seeing this film in the first place and be prepared to undo the damage to those who fall prey to its lure."
Mr. Sayers pointed out that sodium pentobarbital or commercially compressed carbon monoxide where the two acceptable vehicles when it is time for a dog or other pet to "visit a farm out in the country". Mr. Camp, when these methods of demise were mentioned, affected a blank stare and simply said, "bo-ring" before leaving the room.
"Benji Off the Leash" will be opening in theaters across the country on August 20.