Koko Image

Koko

By Brian Shaer | March 25, 2021

I think that screenwriter J. Scott Vajner and director Anjani K. Pandey’s Koko has its heart in the right place. However, as the story of a young man who goes to court in order to legally marry his dog, the comedy’s (?) intentions are so thunderously wrong-headed that the movie achieves a sort of pity. With slightly more effort, this could have been a dynamite satire along the lines of Citizen Ruth.

In foster care since he was a child but later adopted by his late father’s army buddy, Randy (Anthony Esposito) seems to have grown into a well-adjusted, if awkward, young man. On his first day of college, Randy meets his friendly and gregarious wannabe lawyer roommate, Mike (Travis Chase), and they become life-long best mates. Later that day, at a local pizza parlor, Randy is introduced to Jessica (Dulaney Sundin), a waitress-in-training. At Mike’s prodding, Randy and Jessica begin a flirtation that soon develops into a relationship. Before you can say “dating montage,” the two are engaged.

“…Randy gets down on one knee and proposes to Koko. Koko promptly licks his face.”

Later, Randy gets a finance job at a company that does something, and Jessica, it seems, stays home as the two settles into married life. Randy is moving up the corporate ladder, and Jessica is eager to make plans for their wedding (it has been an extraordinarily long engagement).

Then rough times hit. Randy’s company experiences a run of terrible losses, and his salary gets dramatically slashed. The realization of having to further postpone their wedding in addition to downsizing to a smaller apartment hits Jessica a bit too hard. So hard, in fact, that she leaves Randy

To lift Randy’s spirits, Mike takes him out for a “soft drink” (actual words), whereupon Randy makes the acquaintance of Trish (Rachel Willis), a veterinary assistant. It is when Randy visits Trish at work one afternoon that he encounters Koko, a beautiful white canine, and the sparks fly. As then-President Obama espouses the virtuous tenet of “love is love” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on marriage equality, Randy gets down on one knee and proposes to Koko. Koko promptly licks his face.

Koko (2021)

Directed: Anjani K. Pandey

Written: J. Scott Vajner

Starring: Anthony Esposito, Travis Chase, Dulaney Sundin, Rachel Willis, John Parsonson, Celia Isla, Sean Collins, Andrew Kranz, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Koko Image

"…affords the whole thing a certain innocence."

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