Film & TV

Film Review: Koko-A Red Dog Story

A delightful addition to the Red Dog stories.

Over time an unlikely kinship has formed between humans and dogs. Over the centuries these hounds would become our protectors. It is estimated that there are 560 million dogs are on earth. Some of these dogs are inspirational. Red Dog is one of them. Koko is another.

Red Dog is the treasured pooch who has had books and two films made in his honour and a statue erected in his name. This is the story about Koko the dog who played Red Dog in the movie.

Koko is a beautifully told mockumentary that blends fact and fiction in such a lovely way. It traverses the incredible bond and unconditional love between humans and dogs and explores the impact they have on our lives.

Narrated by Jason Isaacs – (who played Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films), and with interviews from Carol Hobday, Nelson Woss and Kriv Sanders – Koko is a must see – it’s playful and gorgeous to watch and will make you laugh and cry.

Koko was born in Dunolly, Victoria in December 2005. He was the first of the litter to walk and was a born star. He has charisma, soul and depth. His original owner and breeder was Carol Hobday, and she took Koko to Dog shows so he could shine.

Koko was very curious with a great personality. He was affectionate and adored by everybody. Koko became a professional at dog shows. To win ‘Best Dog’ you need to score 100 points. Koko won. He was used to breed and became cocky, so they pulled him from the shows ‘so he could mature a little bit’.

Red Dog died in 1979 and Kriv Sanders wanted to make the book into a movie. He spent 18 months auditioning for the perfect dog to play the part. He met Koko and he was perfect for the role.

Carol wouldn’t sell Koko (he was her pet), so she lent him to the Kriv Sanders. They spent four months working with him to teach him the tricks he needed to perform for the big screen.

They had a limited budget and didn’t have a main actor yet! Once filming was due to begin, they had to dye the three dogs who would play the part of Red Dog…

Unfortunately, they dyed one of the dog’s green so Koko was going to have to play the main character. But Koko wasn’t an actor.

When they thought the movie was going to be scrapped and decided to film it in a different way Koko came around and played the part to perfection.

The stories they reminisce via camera interviews and re-enactment scenes make this a gem to watch. It’s humorous especially with the telling of Kriv Sanders being so allergic to Koko during production and the relationships Koko formed are so heart-warming.

We get to know Koko and his humans and fall more and more in love with Koko throughout. It is told with such warmth and humour. We follow Koko’s life story from a puppy up until his passing in December 2012. We watch him from being an unknown to a superstar, to his retirement and passing.

Koko was nominated for seven actor awards and won the ‘Golden Collar’ award.

This is for everyone who loves animals, especially our canines, and fans of Red Dog, and any dog! They steal our hearts and this makes us realise how lucky we are if we have ever shared that special bond.

Since Koko’s passing, his fans and fellow dog lovers have donated over $125,000 to the Dogs Refuge in WA in his memory. His legacy helps dog’s in need.

To this day people still visit Koko’s statue and support the shelter. This film will be used to continue these endeavours.

Red Dog and Koko you will be forever in Australia’s and the world’s hearts. You are definitely in mine.

Koko releases on November 4th on DVD. It is also available for streaming.

Reviewed by Gemma Crossland

BESOTTED 4 stars

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