Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why Dug Was a Great Character

Photo Credit: disney.wikia.com

I’ll be honest: I’m not a big fan of Pixar’s Up. It was funny, yes, and the ten minute intro is obviously sweet, but it lacked in other areas, like female characterization. Ellie got characterization, yes, but Up as a whole certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.

I do like Dug. He’s a great character, and in many ways I think it is characters like Dug that make movies I’m not keen on watchable. Let’s look at why.

They are Unexpected

Dug is a yellow dog you’d expect to see in someone’s back yard, not in the middle of a jungle. He can talk, unlike every other dog I’ve met in real life. And, in the way of unexpected things, he sticks around, and adds to Carl’s walking disaster.

They are Important

Dug already knows a few very important things about the antagonist, Charles Muntz. He know the landscape and he knows about Kevin. In fact, he can even act as a communicator between Kevin and the humans—“She is calling to her babies.” On top of that, Dug is integral in getting Carl and Russell out of some sticky spots—as well as into some others!

They Have Distinct Characters, Usually Funny

Dug is different from the other dogs we see. He is bright yellow, he is friendly, he is pleasant, and he wears the cone of shame. His character is defined by his love for the people he has just met, and the fact that he is both brave and good. More than that, he has a very distinct way of talking—you could believe that Dug says things dogs would actually say.

“Go on Master! I will stop the dogs!” *stands in front of the dogs* “Stop you dogs.”

“A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, ‘I forgot to store acorns for winter and now I am dead.’ Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.”

“I was hiding under your porch because I love you. Can I stay?”

“Oh, I am ready to not be up high.”

They Have Their Own Plots

Dug is a secondary character, but he still has a personal history. He is a dog, and he wants to be loved as he loves everyone around him. He wants to be liked by his pack, he does not want to wear the cone of shame, and he wants to help Carl, whatever the cost.

They are (Usually) Endearing

Dug is innocent. He bites and scratches, but he still has that puppy-like innocence that makes him sweet and loving. It isn’t the battle-seasoned veteran who throws his paws around his victim and begs her to be his prisoner. More than that, he is almost always happy and always wants to serve Carl like a good dog. Also, he is a little bit dumb in the way that dogs are, and that is part of the reason we love them.

This pattern works, actually. I think of Dobby from Harry Potter, Donkey from Shrek, Puss from Shrek, Mulch Diggums from Artemis Fowl, Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles, Homer from Pandora’s Mythic Misadventures—there are many.

They’re some of the characters we love most, and some of the characters that stir up the most trouble. Then again, that may be exactly why we love them.

What do you think of characters like Dug? Do they fit this pattern? Are they to be frowned upon? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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