As in Road Warrior, here we see a pieced-together simulacrum of a functioning civilization, clothes in tatters, machinery in disrepair, and — crucially — the survivors struggling to survive in the Australian Outback. As in two Duran Duran videos, we see an elevator carry our protagonist down into a vast subterranean civilization that is at the same time more high-tech and more terrifying than the surface world.
Unfortunately, once Don Johnson descends from the post-nuclear wasteland into that subterranean world, the shabby appeal of the post-apocalyptic, barbarous world is lost. The underground looks like a hyper-suburban, brightly-lit world born of 1950s sitcoms, and that’s just not as much fun. Worse, Johnson leaves his adorable, scruffy talking dog on the surface when he travels below, so half the film’s fun — and half the title — is irrelevant for a long stretch. It’s just as well that George Miller came along and mined the best elements of the film for use in the Mad Max films, since A Boy and His Dog doesn’t quite deliver on its promise.
A simple rule for all aspiring filmmakers: Don’t introduce us to a lovable talking dog and then take him away for half the film. Virtually all good-hearted people love dogs — talking ones even more so — and the thought of one sitting out half the film in a sandswept post-nuclear wasteland is just sad.
But speaking of boys and magical animals, now I must dash, since I see that Dave Barry is talking about his Peter Pan books at a Barnes & Noble in my neighborhood. It is my duty as a mature adult to hear what this influential writer has to say.