A few months ago I reviewed the original Benji movie, which I didn’t have any nostalgia for (since it was the first time I had seen it) but still wound up enjoying. However, due to my lack of nostalgia for the film I only gave it a mediocre 3 out of 5. I figured the film’s sequel For the Love of Benji would be pretty much the same adorable but generic film that the original was. My gut was mostly correct but I did end up giving For the Love of Benji a 2.5 instead of a 3/5.
For the Love of Benji has a much odder story than the original. Mary and the Chapman kids are going on a vacation to Athens with Benji and Tiffany in tow. However, before Benji is put on board the plane a secret agent “tattoos” a message on his paw. Benji eventually becomes lost in Greece while several secret agents pursue him to get the information he has on his paw. While trying to get back to the Chapmans’ hotel, he must also try to avoid the bad guys. Basically, they turned a Benji film into a very light spy flick.
As I wrote earlier, I wasn’t super impressed by the first film but it was very watchable and held my attention. For the Love of Benji didn’t do quite as good of a job in the holding my attention area. It’s not like Benji had a ton of action but compared to For the Love of Benji, it was an action-packed film. Very little happens in this film. The story is basically just an excuse to keep Benji running around lost on the streets of Athens. The plot of the film also isn’t always very clear or interesting. It’s hard to tell which people pursuing Benji are the bad guys and which are the ones looking out for him (especially since the “good guy” looks a whole lot like your typical bad guy). Also, not much happens in the film and the story just isn’t very interesting. However, the main point of the Benji series of films is to provide nice safe family-friendly entertainment, especially adorable antics from a very cute dog. Since that is what most people are watching Benji films for, it’s a good thing that this film is every bit as adorable as the original. The story is just even less entertaining and interesting.
Since this is a Blu-ray release, of course the video quality is a very important component to whether or not this release is worth purchasing. I will say that For the Love of Benji is at times a bit grainy (not surprising for a low-budget film from the late ’70s). However, other than that the video quality is quite good. For the Love of Benji has some decent looking scenery at times (which shows off the video quality) but unfortunately locations are re-used multiple times each. While the video quality is quite good for a film this old, the audio at times is terrible. I don’t think it’s a problem with this release, I think it’s a problem with the film itself. The audio is especially terrible in the airport scenes. At times you can barely even hear what is being said because of how loud the background noises are.
For the Love of Benji comes with a pretty good helping of bonus features, enough that for once I am actually upgrading a film’s final review score due to the extras included. The two main features are the TV special Benji at Marineland (aka Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland) and the Joe Camp-directed The Double McGuffin (a full-length film but one of the few non-Benji related ones in Camp’s filmography). These two main additions are only included on the DVD part of the set but they are still great additions to this release. Also included is a new audio commentary with director Joe Camp and his son Brandon.
Overall, I would say For the Love of Benji is just slightly worse than the original due to the even less interesting story. The cute antics are still there and this is still a great film for families and those with nostalgia for it. While I am going to give this release of For the Love of Benji the same 3/5 I gave the original film, if it weren’t for the nice bonus features this would have received a 2.5/5 instead.
For the Love of Benji was released on Blu-ray on April 3, 2018.
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of For the Love of Benji used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.