There are few things in life that can get me to cry, (especially so today), but nothing made me cry like this 1995 film from my youth:
When my brother and I first rented this film, we assumed it was a family friendly flick about some dog. Whoop-de-doo. The trailer sold it as such, so we took the chance.
What we discovered is that the film was one of the saddest things that we would ever see. Fluke follows a workaholic man who dies in a car accident and is reincarnated as a golden retriever.
Yeah, that trailer was full of crap, right? Well this one, only alludes to the dog section. In fact, IMDb is the only one that gets it right (and in a succinct manner):
Marketing a film must be tough; especially one where the main character dies and is reincarnated without any explanation or background.
Fluke starts with the man dying, then jumps to the dog’s life. He’s born in an alley with his puppy brethren and mother, and gets fed by a nearby restaurant worker.
Then one day, some animal control workers take the mother and her pups away. And once they arrive at the shelter, because Fluke… barks a lot (?), they schedule him for euthanasia. Assholes.
He escapes in a 90s family comedy kind of way, pratfalls and all; and goes it on his own. But he encounters this nice old homeless lady, and they “keep each other warm.” Soon he’s making her money, using his human intellect to find the jewel in her walnut shell game schtick.
Of course, she dies eventually, and he’s left on his own again… Until another dog, Rumbo, comes into his life. It’s with Rumbo that he realizes he can talk to other dogs, and that maybe he wasn’t always a dog. They live together for a while in a local junkyard. Fluke begins to remember his old life, his wife, his son, and the man who killed him. He even tries to call his wife because “she’s in danger.”
Soon he’s own his own (AGAIN) and his journey leads right to his family. In the end, he discovers he was wrong in his hatred, and decides to leave them alone to live a happy life.
The film was based off of the book of the same name by English horror author, James Herbert. Something tells me the book wasn’t as family friendly.
Where/ when did I first see it?
I had first viewed this as the aforementioned rental from our Video Market. As sad as the film was, it was surprisingly liked by the both of us– well, as much as you like a sad movie. See back then we watched and re-watched many movies together – and even if Travis didn’t like this because it made him cry – I was able to coerce another viewing out of him.
How does it hold up?
It feels like a 90s family drama, but then it also at times feels like a 90s family comedy. It has a tough line on which to teeter and for the most part, it’s pretty well-balanced. But I o believe it may have been better suited (and able to make way more money) if it leaned towards one or the other; it’s like its audience was not solidified.
I was surprised how quickly the film went into its plot without much explanation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, that’s definitely appreciated, but it was somewhat jarring to see in a film such as this.
What did I like about it and why?
Fluke was something of… a fluke for me. I am always such a fan of sci-fi and supernatural material, but not so much of family-friendly material– Well, I was back then. But this film has resonated with me for years, and every time I thought of it, I’d get this overwhelming sense of despair from its sadness.
But the idea stuck with me: reincarnation. Fifteen years later, I would get an idea for such a film, and it will definitely be one of my best. Fingers crossed!
- Dogs can understand you, don’t be an asshole.
- Samuel L. Jackson was in everything!
- Ron Perlman will forever be a bad guy in films.
Where can you see it?
Check out Fluke on CanIStream.It?