Netflix Saved by Ruby is the second aww cute hero dog K-9 story to stream in the last week or so after the Channing Tatum and dog movie dog. Unlike the Tatum vehicle Saved by Ruby is a BOATS (Based On A True Story) movie also based on a short story in a book written by an author and all those names flash up in the credits so fast you can’t read them all – authors always understand the wave, don’t they? But the real Ruby is still rampaging around, a former shelter pup who grew up as part of a Rhode Island State Police K-9 unit. Oh no, you’re probably thinking, is this one of those inspirational movies? Yes it is, and in the end you will cry or die.
“RESCUED BY RUBY”: STREAM OR SKIP?
The essentials: This Border Collie – what a savage. Her name is Ruby. She has been adopted and brought back seven times, now eight times. Her continued presence at the shelter means co-worker Pat (Camille Sullivan) has grown accustomed to the loopy slut we see in a montage that destroys the snot out of everything. The boss wants to put the dog to sleep, but before that happens we meet Dan O’Neil (Grant Gustin from The Lightning TV series), a state cop who tried to get a spot in the K-9 unit and didn’t make it. How many times has he tried and failed? Well, this will be his eighth try, because the lord works in mysterious ways, especially when directed by screenwriters.
So you see what role Destiny’s Hand will play in this film. Dan really is a good guy, a good cop, and a good husband to Melissa (Kaylah Zander) and a good dad to a toddler, but what he really wants is a good dog cop dad. Why, you might ask? What, can’t a guy have a dream or something? Do movie characters have to be fully fleshed out to evoke our empathy? Especially one that goes to an animal shelter and snags that pesky border collie who’s only hours away from a green mile walk? His goal is to turn Ruby into a drug and abuser snoop and swallow human remains, which is pretty ambitious. The pooch is so wacky and eager to poop on the floor, even training it to sit for a second may take more alchemy than it takes to turn a mouse into a manatee.
But Dan has overcome his own fears and failures to become the good, upstanding citizen and family man he is today, so he digs in and puts his full focus on Ruby. There are several characters to encourage him along the way, including Matt Zarrella (Scott Wolf), the tough but encouraging leader of the K-9 unit, and a mysterious old Irishman and K-9 observer/follower (Tom McBeath) , who pops up whenever the plot needs him to offer a little inspirational advice that often sounds like a thinly veiled faith-based movie message. Will Ruby, who is totally cute by the way, overcome adversity and become a canine cop? And when that happens (NO SPOILERS), how many Timmies trapped in wells will she rescue? (NO SPOILERS, I SAY.)
Which movies will it remind you of?: Well, Ruby looks like Lassie when she’s starring alongside Jim Belushi K-9
Notable performance: Two border collies named Bear and Shiloh play Ruby and THEY ARE SO GOOD DOGS. I hope they got paid with huge piles of beef jerky, fresh raccoon scraps on the floor to roll around in, and lots of pretty heads themselves.
Memorable dialogue: Two scripted instances strongly suggesting this Saved by Ruby is somehow about believing in the Christian God:
Melissa likes her man in uniform: “The taller the hat, the closer to God!”
Wise Old Man: “Now there a wink from above!”
gender and skin: none. That’s where you get the feeling Saved by Ruby might be offended by the implication that Dan had to have sex with Melissa in order for her to get pregnant.
Our opinion: Fun fact about Saved by Ruby: Directed by Katt Shea, who directed the scandalous 1992 Holy Crap Drew Barrymore is naked in it film Poisonous Ivy. So you can’t fault her range considering this doggo tale is the latest faith movie with a considerably lighter hand than those in which one soccer team prays harder than the other soccer team and therefore wins the game. or where Kirk Cameron walks through the forest and encounters a huge cross hanging in a ray of golden sunlight. (Both are real scenes in real movies that I can confirm actually exist.)
No, ruby the story of one of those little miracles that sometimes happen in real life, although some of us prefer to call it a happy accident (the real Ruby was actually a shelter puppy about to be euthanized). Be thankful it’s not throwing Bible verses at us in the skull, or indulge in that who-rescued-the-embroidered-onto-a-litter-pillow-horse-shit cliché about pet-owning dynamics.
Granted, the film isn’t groundbreaking at all; we get the usual anti-stress sequences of trying to get the dog not to freak out so he can pass this or that official K-9 test (some of you might even say a prayer, like Dan seems to do), and an ending that puts the idea of happy coincidences in the realm of the ludicrous, manipulative Schmaltz (guilt of Screenwriter ex machina for that doozy). It’s amateurish in its technical construction, too – parts of the film appear to have been worked on with a crude tool carved out of stone by Homo habilis – but that’s just snooty film-critic snowballing. This is a short, sweet 90 minute film to watch with the kids and grandparents or whoever whoever now appreciates its feathery human drama and handful of innocent laughs. But hell with people – we’re here for the dog, and we get a lot from the dog, so the film fulfills its modest goals.
Our appeal: Don’t take your love to town when you have it ruby exactly here. Stream it.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more about his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.
current Saved by Ruby on Netflix