It's hard to dog "Puppy Love" (9 p.m. tonight Hallmark Channel)because the goal of the film is to promote strong relationships between people and pets and help homeless pets get adopted. Indeed, the film's star Candace Cameron Bure is a spokesperson for Pet Project, Hallmark's initiative promoting those aims.
And yet, subtracting its good intent, "Puppy Love" is pretty bland; it relies too heavily on the fact that a main character, played by BugZ, is an adorable well-trained shaggy dog. That's not enough to give the film the charm it should have.
We first meet pro baseball player Ben (Victor Webster), a bachelor whose best friend is his dog Jake (BugZ). When Ben goes on road trips, Ben's friend Ryles (Jamison Jones) watches Jake, who is known to run off. That's exactly what he does during Ben's latest road games.
Meanwhile, Megan (Bure), a teacher and single mom has moved to town with her daughter Caitlin (Katie Hawkins). Caitlin isn't taking the move well. It's summer time and there aren't a lot of kids around. She desperately wants a dog, but neat freak mom isn't on board. But seeing her sad, lonely kid softens her resolve. They head to the pound just after Jake is brought in by animal control. And he's the dog Caitlin's been looking for.
Naturally, Ben has been looking for his dog too. He discovers he's been adopted by Megan and Caitlin and goes to retrieve Jake, but after seeing Caitlin's love for Jake, he comes up with a custody sharing arrangement. Oh, and you should know that single Ben and single Megan immediately dislike each other.
No there aren't any surprises here but unfortunately there are also few sparks. Bure, in her stylish skinny jeans and wedge platforms, looks great although not very much like an academician. She and Webster are a pretty couple, but also pretty bland. Even in the end, there's not much passion; it feels like they are in love because they don't know anyone else in town. And while BugZ is an adorable mop of a dog, as dog actors go he's more of a trained actor than an emotive one. The dog in "The Artist" acts circles around him.
Just like a case of the condition it's named for, "Puppy Love" will only make you feel good for a litte while.