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Benji Collection – Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Review by Renee KnoblauchMill Creek Entertainment
Some of you may remember the adorable scruffy dog, Benji introduced to the world in 1974. I have fond memories of the Benji movies as a child. Mill Creek Entertainment has put together a Benji Collection– Blu-ray+DVD+Digital with the following movies: Benji The Original Classic, For the Love of Benji, and Benji Off the Leash!
The movies have been restored in high definition widescreen. The colors are a lot more vivid and look great. The set includes Blu-ray, DVD, and a Digital Streaming key code. Running time for all three films is four hours and fifty-two minutes.
All three movies include extras features. One of the features is an audio commentary from the director Joe Camp and other individuals. The audio commentary shows the full-length film with subtitles with the director and another person reminiscing about the movie about production, a funny moment, working with the animals, and other tidbits in the movie. Another feature included is the original theatric trailers for all three movies. You can really notice the restoration done in the movies after watching the theatric trailers.
Benji The Original Classic is rated G. Benji is a brown scruffy looking stray dog that has many names and companions throughout his community. The Chapman kids are very fond of Benji. They try desperately to talk their father into keeping Benji but, he is not interested in bringing a mutt into his home.
Benji keeps a daily routine of who he visits that includes special treats and attention. He even chases his favorite cat during his daily rounds. Benji meets a pretty white girl dog at his favorite trash can during his daily outings one day and he is instantly smitten with her. The Chapman kids affectionately call her Tiffany.
The plot thickens when the two Chapman kids get kidnapped and taken to the abandoned house Benji lives in at the edge of town. Benji finds a way to get the authorities to the kids and ends up finding him and Tiffany a forever home.
The movie is clean with no language. It does have two kids being kidnapped, a gun, and a dog being kicked.
For the Love of Benji came out in 1977 and is rated G. Benji and Tiffany are no longer strays but now part of the Chapman family and heading on vacation to Greece. Benji finds himself in harm’s way as he becomes a carrier of some top-secret code that gets attached to the bottom of his paw.
Benji escapes from his pet carrier in Athens and is on the run. You will see all the ancient sites in Greece as Benji is traveling around the city. Benji finds himself pursued by spies and secret agents. The film finds Benji and Cindy in peril as hostages during a police standoff. The movie ends on a happy note with Benji looking into a basket of Tiffany and his puppies.
As with the other movie, there is no language. There is a hostage situation, gun shown, and some violence. Remember this is 1970s kid's movie violence which is mild compared to today’s movies.
Benji off the Leash premiered in 2004. This time we meet Benji as a puppy. We meet Colby whose father runs a puppy mill in his backyard. The dogs are abused and living in filth. Colby is an animal lover and hides Benji when his father sees that the puppy is a mixed breed that the father cannot pass off as a purebred. Colby takes the puppy and hides him with his funny cockatoo in his fort.
Benji befriends another dog in which the animal control officers call Lizard Tongue. Benji and Lizard Tongue help free Benji’s sick mom from the puppy mill to get her medical attention.
Benji off the Leash is rated PG. The father in this movie we learn has a history of domestic abuse. Colby jumps on his dad’s back trying to protect Benji. His father throws him to the ground and manhandles Colby by shaking him. His father threatens Colby on several occasions. You see beer bottles and the father threatens to kill Benji. Colby disobeys his dad a few times. There is some slapstick comedy with the dog catchers. The word butt and butthead are used several times.
What is not to love about an adorable hero dog? Benji is loyal, compassionate, and does not give up on his task. The movies are slow paced compared to today’s movies and even a bit cheesy in the plots.
My two teenagers age 13 and 16 watched the movies with me this spring. My kids’ favorite was Benji off the Leash. It had a lot more action and comedy throughout. My personal favorite is the originals despite the cheesy plots. I was delighted watching the two original films and sharing a part of my childhood with my kids.
Product review by Renee Knoblauch, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2019