A large gap exists between children's movies that engage the imagination and much of the actual children-oriented products that are produced and released. In a perfect world, children could watch movies that would allow them the opportunity of entering into the movie world and actively taking part, using their growing little brains to fill in gaps or to place themselves within the story. But Hollywood doesn't work that way; it's uncomfortable with unknowns and gray areas, opportunities that allow the audience to think for itself. Rather, they want totally pre-programmed and controlled product, everything tested and committee-approved and based on pre-existing factors. And hence we have Firehouse Dog.

Directed by Todd Holland (Krippendorf's Tribe) and written by Claire-Dee Lim, Mike Werb and Michael Colleary, Firehouse Dog is a mostly inoffensive and professional job, with all the plot details carefully worked out according to standard guidelines. Not much goes amiss. The advertising materials use images of the heroic dog (played by four identical real-life pooches: Arwen, Frodo, Rohan and Stryder) riding a skateboard and wearing sunglasses, but thankfully such nonsense is kept to a minimum in the actual movie. The dog doesn't talk through CGI dog lips, but we do get three farting scenes, and -- you guessed it -- a burst of George Thorogood singing "Bad to the Bone" (get it?)