Who's a Good Boy (2019) Short Film Review


by Sam Kolesnik

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If you’ve ever despaired over the lack of full frontal male nudity in independent cinema, then Who’s a Good Boy will renew your hope in spades. Written and directed by Alex Phillips, Who’s a Good Boy is an absurdist short film about “Wallace,” a once-creepy-urinating-exhibitionist turned captive “dog boy”.

Who’s a Good Boy slices the jugular of audience comfort as quickly as it can. The short plunges us into a bizarro-world where men are treated like dogs, kept naked in collars and spoken to in obnoxious baby talk. It should be noted that the dog-boys don’t seem all that unhappy about this. 

David Brown (as “Wallace”) earnestly performs the bizarre role with believably dog-like expressions and mannerisms. His commitment to the performance edges the short away from straight-up comedy; the film’s territory is the provocative and the surreal. 

Alex Phillips doesn’t strike as a shock jock with Who’s a Good Boy, though he’s certainly exploring boundaries and pushing buttons. The film feels most interesting during Wallace’s surreal dream sequence where another man asks, “You gonna kill yourself, dog boy?” Wallace all but squeaks, “No.” The other man offers deadpan affirmation, “That’s right. Suicide’s boring.” The comedy is understated, while the absurdity is bold. 

There are probably a variety of different meanings or messages one could project onto Who’s a Good Boy but it’s not clear that Alex Phillips means anything more than what actually transpires on screen. He holds the strange world at a distance, as if to keep the safety of, “This isn’t that serious.” It’s this gap that piques curiosity. Who’s a Good Boy proves Phillips clearly has a great eye for the bizarre, but can he fuse it with any meaning? 

Who’s a Good Boy is going to entertain some while it will likely repulse others. It’s not the kind of short that’s likely to have broad appeal. Oh, and it has one of the strangest playground scenes you’re likely to see this year. Okay, maybe ever. 

Who’s a Good Boy’s United States premiere was at the Maryland Film Festival. Its next screening is at the 2019 Sick ‘n’ Wrong Film Festival in Orlando, FL.