Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw is a 1988 animated feature film distributed by TriStar Pictures. The film is based on the Topper Toys/Mattel toy line and Hanna-Barbera television series of the same name. It was directed by Pierre DeCelles, and stars the voices of Brennan Howard, B.J. Ward and Tony Longo.
The film's story centers on a magical artifact called the Bone of Scone, a reference to the Stone of Scone in Irish and Scottish Legend that gives "Puppy Power" to the Pound Puppies (dogs) and Pound Purries (cats). However, a villain named Marvin McNasty plans to take it and use it for world domination. Without the Bone of Scone, humans will not understand what the animals are saying and, if it is broken, Puppy Power will be lost and can only be restored if the Bone is repaired.
The Legend of Big Paw was the last theatrically released animated feature from the late 1980s to promote a major toy line, a common trend in the American cartoon industry during that time. The film did not fare well with critics or audiences during its original release, and grossed only US$500,000 domestically. It premiered on DVD in North America on October 24, 2006.
|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
In present-day 1988, Whopper is taking his niece and nephew to the museum. Along the way, he tells them the origin of Puppy Power, the ability of humankind to understand the Pound Puppies and Purries. In the Dark Ages (specifically 959 AD), a young boy named Arthur and his dog Digalot came across a stone which contained both the mythical sword Excalibur and the magical Bone of Scone.
While Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, Arthur’s dog Digalot pulled the Bone of Scone from the same stone, and soon afterward Arthur discovered that the dog could talk. Sir McNasty, who had witnessed the withdrawal of Excalibur and the Bone and Arthur's coronation as King of England, planned to conquer the world by retrieving the Bone. However, it was kept hidden by the giant guardian, Big Paw.
Whopper's story continues in 1959, when the town museum exhibits the Bone of Scone in honor of its 1,000-year anniversary. The Puppies and Purries, along with teenagers Tammy and Jeff, will be holding an Adoption Bazaar the following day. The Pound Puppies, led by Cooler, visit the exhibit, where Whopper, then a pup, and Bright Eyes, a cheerleader, stray away from the group. Unknown to them, Marvin McNasty is inside plotting his domination. Some moments later, a nurse called Florence tells the Puppies and teenagers that Collette is having Puplings.
They rush out of the exhibit, along with the Purries, Hairball and his girlfriend, Charlamange, in order to see them all. But after Collette and the rest bless them in song, McNasty comes to the Pound to adopt four other young dogs in advance. Whopper and the new mother worry about his namesake and stingy attitude. Before McNasty can have the pups, Tammy and Jeff inform him, he has to sign adoption papers. He soon does so and quickly goes off.
A suspicious Whopper goes after him over Collette's objections. Whopper follows him to his truck near the museum, in which his henchmen, Lumpy and Bones, are eating sandwiches. The pup finds out what McNasty is going to do with the four puppies. With his Mean Machine, McNasty will transform them and the rest of the Pound into vicious guard dogs. Whopper goes and tells Cooler, but Cooler does not take him seriously.
Disguised as janitors, Lumpy and Bones enter the museum and suck up the Bone with a vacuum cleaner. The Bone goes through a complicated series of contraptions, and Lumpy smashes it on Bones' head. With the henchmen in pursuit, Whopper runs back to the Pound with one half of the Bone. However, the henchmen catch Whopper and Collette and return to their boss.
Meanwhile, the Bone has lost its magic, and with neither Puppies or humans able to communicate, the Adoption Bazaar will have to be canceled. Cooler tells Howler to tell all of the town dogs that two dogs have been kidnapped and taken to the nearby woods, where McNasty operates.
The Pound Puppies and Purries set off to rescue them. Soon, Collette and Whopper escape from their cage inside McNasty's laboratory, and briefly reunite with the rest of the Puppies. However, Lumpy and Bones snatch them back. The Puppies give chase, but nearly all of them end up in a rat-infested cave, hanging on a rope, before the Purries pull them up to safety.
The Puppies and Purries continue looking for their friends. When they get caught in a patch of mire, they are saved by the legendary Big Paw, who agrees to find the Bone with them. Later, McNasty's henchmen transform the Puppies into guard dogs, save for Cooler. Big Paw brings him and the Purries back to town to stop the evil trio, as the trio's truck heads to the Pound. At the exhibit, Lumpy and Bones help crown Marvin.
As they glue back the Bone together, "Puppy Power" returns, and Cooler can finally understand Tammy and Jeff. They head back to the museum to chase off McNasty via a tunnel that Big Paw has dug up, followed by the transformed Puppies. While encaged in a dinosaur exhibit, Cooler and Big Paw see one of Collette's Puplings tell her "I love you". Thus, she is changed back to good, and Cooler whispers the same thing to his friend Reflex, whose kisses bring the other Puppies back to normal.
Big Paw and Cooler chase McNasty and his henchmen all over town and eventually back to the museum and their Mean Machine, which turns them into good men. A moment later, Big Paw and Nose Marie finally get back the Bone of Scone. The next day, a reformed Marvin, Lumpy and Bones go to the Pound and celebrate the Adoption Bazaar along with the Puppies, Purries, Tammy and Jeff.
As soon as the story ends, Whopper and his niece and nephew Puplings find themselves in the museum. The Bone of Scone has returned for another visit, and Whopper introduces Big Paw as a little surprise for the young ones, who did not believe before that he was real. As long as he is here to protect the Bone, Whopper says, Puppy Power will never be lost again.
- Brennan Howard as Cooler / Digalot
- B.J. Ward as Whopper
- Nancy Cartwright as Bright Eyes
- Greg Berg as Beamer
- Ruth Buzzi as Nose Marie
- Hal Rayle as Howler/ Reflex
- Susan Silo as Florence
- Tony Longo as Big Paw
- George Rose as Sir McNasty / Marvin McNasty
- Wayne Scherzer as Lumpy
- Frank Welker as Hairball / Bones / Reporter / Howler (howling vocals) / Big Paw (growling vocals)
- Cathy Cavadini as Charlamange/Collette
- Janice Kawaye as Tammy
- Joey Dedio as Jeff
- James Swodec as Arthur
The film was produced by Carolco Pictures and Atlantic-Kushner-Locke along with The Maltese Companies, financed by Tonka (the original owners of the Pound Puppies franchise) and distributed by TriStar Pictures.
The film's director, Pierre DeCelles, was also an art director and directing storyboard artist during production. According to DeCelles, the film took 5½ months to complete, starting in the fall of 1987.
The first 2½ months were spent on preparing its layouts and storyboards, and the remaining time on the animation, backgrounds and shooting.
The overseas work was done by Wang Film Productions and Cuckoo's Nest Studio (two Taiwanese companies known for their contributions to children's animated television series).
The film's animation and character design were different from what was featured in the Hanna-Barbera series, and did not contribute to the latter's continuity.
A new set of characters were introduced for the film: Pound Puppies Collette, Beamer, and Reflex, and the Pound Purries Hairball and Charlamange, along with two teenagers, Tammy and Jeff, that replaced the 11-year-old Holly.
"Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw" had a short run in theaters and was mainly played in matinees. At the box office, the film grossed $586,938 domestically.
It became the only kids movie for Carolco Pictures and the only animated feature for TriStar Pictures until 2001's The Trumpet of the Swan.
It was also the last in a line of 1980s animated productions for the big screen which featured established toy properties as their main characters.
The movie received negative reception by critics.
Variety magazine called it "uninvolving and endlessly derivative".
The Sacramento Bee deemed the movie "miserably drawn" in comparison to what Disney was offering at the time.
The San Francisco Chronicle gave it an "empty chair" rating.
A reviewer in the Detroit Free Press found it "dull and unoriginal", but praised the songs that were written for it.
Martha Baker of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also denounced the movie and began her review, saying, "If you're in your 40th year and not your fourth, Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw requires the extra dosage of insulin reserved for such treks into celluloid and commercial [sweetness]. But even 4-year-olds have trouble swallowing this cartoon whole".