SECRET AGENT DINGLEDORF AND HIS TRUSTY DOG SPLAT -- An Atrocious and Embarrassing Kid's Adventure Movie
Review by Camden Ferrell
Secret Agent Dingledorf and His Trusty Dog Splat had a brief theatrical run in July of 2021 and is now set for its VOD release. This movie is directed by Emmy-nominated cinematographer Billy Dickson and is based on the book series of the same name. From the start, it’s clear that this is a movie aimed exclusively to young children and nobody else. Unfortunately, Dickson’s film finds itself severely unsuccessful due to the movies weak writing, poor acting, and cringingly awkward execution.
Bernie Dingledorf is an average 10-year-old boy. He deals with bullies, and he spends time with his two friends, Lens Cap and I.Q. However, all of this changes when him and his friends are tasked by a secret agency to destroy a diabolical Laugh Generator that is set to be used by malicious clown Dr. Chuckles. This premise is ridiculously silly, but it’s to be expected from a movie meant for young children. However, the execution doesn’t do much to help make its premise more engaging.
Immediately, it’s painfully obvious that this film was made with no thought or consideration in any department. The script by Bill Myers is weak, and it lacks any original dialogue. It’s full of tired jokes, unbelievably cringy physical comedy, and a central story that fails to have any heart or emotion. On top of that, the execution of this film is uncomfortably poor from start to finish. Scenes feel stilted, editing is choppy, and it frankly doesn’t feel like this should have made it past post-production. For an experienced cinematographer like Dickson, it’s legitimately shocking that he would have undeniably one of the most poorly shot movies of the year.
If anything positive can be said about this film, at least the child actors seem to be giving it their all. Zackary Arthur plays Bernie, and he isn’t great by any means, but it’s clear that he’s doing his best with the poor material he’s given. He is supported by the young Shiloh Nelson and Cooper J. Friedman, and they both also seem to be in the same boat. The cast also consists of both Paul Johansson and Jason Dolley, who both seem completely out of their element and checked out of their performances.
While I understand the budget was small for this film, it relies heavily on special effects that make the movie feel severely cheap. Rather than writing set pieces and moments that wouldn’t be feasible to pull off, it seems like they could have made some narrative changes so that their vision didn’t horribly exceed its budget. However, this still wouldn’t fix the fundamental flaws with the film’s writing, execution, and general overall vision. It clearly doesn’t appeal to older kids or adults, but there are times where it can feel like even young children will find nothing of merit in this movie.
Secret Agent Dingledorf and his Trusty Dog Splat is not the charming underdog story it seems to think it is. It is a poorly made kids film that may not even appeal to most of them. It has plenty of embarrassing moments for the cast and crew, and it can often be difficult to watch due to its consistently poor quality.
Secret Agent Dingeldorf and his Trusty Dog Splat is available on VOD October 15.