Dug Days is a series of Disney Pixar shorts following on from the events of 2009’s Up, which in my opinion, is by far one of the best Pixar films ever released. Dug Days had big shoes to fill and surprisingly it manages to bring all of the heart and fun of the full-length film, despite being a limited run of only five 10 minute episodes.
The series brings back senior citizen Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and talking retriever Dug (Bob Peterson), following their adventures in Up. Carl has found a new home in town and adopted Dug as his pet, living next door to wilderness explorer Russell (Jordan Nagai) and his mum. Dug Days follows Dug as he settles into life as a pet and experiences a whole host of new exciting situations, a different one every episode. Dug has a battle with the neighbourhood squirrel as he tries to defend Carl’s new bird feeding station. He looks after a litter of boisterous puppies for Carl’s neighbour. He discovers the horror of fireworks and goes on the hunt for a mysterious smell that he can’t identify. And he helps Russell with a new project that involves adapting Muntz’s talking dog collars for the other neighbourhood animals.
There is a lot in here that is obviously aimed at a younger audience, potentially a little more so than would usually be present in a full-length Disney Pixar film. However, there is still more than enough for adults to enjoy here too. Dug brings his usual childlike wonder and understanding of the world, and while Carl might have softened a little since his adventures at Paradise Falls, he still has that grouchy side that is shown here perfectly. They may not be having adventures anymore, but even in these more down to earth situations, the relationship between Carl and Dug is still a delight to watch. Despite Dug’s exploits and Carl’s sometimes grumpy nature, every episode features an adorable moment between the two that should warm even the coldest of hearts.
It helps that Disney/Pixar know a thing or two about dogs. Dug is just your typical dog with the exception that he can voice his every thought, and anyone who has ever had a dog can appreciate while watching this that everything Dug does and says is exactly what you’d expect from a pet. It’s this running commentary of Dug’s daily life that makes this series so funny. It may be childlike, but it’s incredibly true to life and I found myself laughing quite a lot.
Disney have upped their game too on the animation side, which is surprising considering this is a smaller project than a feature film. In the earlier Pixar series released this year, Monsters at Work, the animation was decidedly flat and not up to standard (to the point where I couldn’t watch more than an episode), but Dug Days does not suffer the same. It looks as good as Up, and the only slight technical fault is that Russell’s voice doesn’t quite sound right, but then Nagai definitely isn’t a child anymore so to electronically alter his voice is no doubt going to sound a little different.
My only other disappointment is that the series just isn’t long enough. You can watch all 5 episodes in less than an hour and it left me crying out for more. Although having said that, I’d rather have less than have them ruin a good thing. However, considering the fact that Ed Asner sadly passed away in August this year, the release of this series is rather timely and while watching this you can’t help but feel quite sad that we’ll never see any more of him as Carl.
Dug Days is short but incredibly sweet, a fun, heart-warming series that is a fitting send-off for Ed Asner and a follow-up that wonderfully and enjoyably answers what Carl and Dug did next.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!