This movie was a sequel to the clever 1959 movie "The Shaggy Dog." That movie was charming and clever, packing a lot of humor and numerous subplots into a relatively short film. Unfortunately, this film is a pale shadow of the earlier film. The jokes are often forced and a viewer can easily see that the special effects used to make the dogs talk are film loops of dogs chewing. I recommend this film only for people who are loyal Disney fans or fans of the numerous well-known actors in this film.
Wilby Daniels (Tommy Kirk) encountered a Borgia ring in the 1959 movie "The Shaggy Dog." His transmutation into a sheep dog stopped at the end of the movie and the ring was put into safe keeping. Seventeen years later Wilby Daniels, now played by Disney regular Dean Jones, is an attorney living in a town full of corruption, lead by district attorney "Honest" John Slade, played by another Disney regular, Keenan Wynn. After being a victim of the rampant crime in Medfield, Wilby decides it is time to challenge Slade for the position of district attorney.
Unfortunately for Daniels, the Borgia ring has resurfaced and has already worked wonders for his hair; and his nose; and his tail! In a reprise of the original movie, we see Wilby turn into a sheepdog at the worst possible times. Wilby also manages to vex Tim Conway, who keeps trying to win a bet that his sheepdog Elwood can talk.
The rest of the movie is routinely scripted with slapstick jokes and scenes that are variations of similar jokes and themes from 1970's-era Disney movies, which is really the problem with this movie. The movie is okay, but uninspired. The movie struggles to be funny. The minimal tension in the movie is forced and generally unbelievable. The movie comes across as being tired.
In spite of the rehashed plot, the tired jokes and the slapstick, there are things to like about this movie. Somehow Suzanne Pleshette rises above the script in her role as wife Betty Daniels. Though the character of "Honest" John Slade is a stereotype of similar characters in other Disney films, Keenan Wynn is always fun to watch. The movie had other shining moments. The cherry pie fight scene was funny. Though the talking dog bit was over-used, the dog pound breakout had humorous moments.
Other well-known stars from that era include Vic Tayback (a regular in the television show "Alice") as crook Eddie Roschak, Dick Van Patten ("Eight Is Enough") as Slade's assistant, and Jo Ann Worley (whose first role was in "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" in 1960, but became famous on Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In"; Worley also appeared in the 1962 Disney space comedy "Moon Pilot") as Tim Conway's roller derby girl friend Katrinka Muggelberg.
In the 1950's and the 1960's Disney excelled at light comedy. The movie "The Shaggy Dog" is one of those light comedies. Unfortunately, Disney struggled in the late 1960's and in the 1970's with weak plots and weak scripts. This sequel to "The Shaggy Dog" was one of those that suffered from a weak script. Fortunately, there are just enough moments in this movie to make the movie worth having if you are a Dean Jones fan, a big Disney fan, or a fan of any of the other actors in this movie. I am usually comfortable with my rating for a movie, but if I could I would have rated this one three and a half stars.