Animals are often smarter than we give them credit for. They can be loyal companions, fearless protectors, and even clever sleuths, sniffing out the answers when we can't.
Lovable and undaunted, animals make the perfect sidekicks, and in the movies below, the perfect saviors as well. These mysteries and thrillers feature animals in all of their heroics. More than just providing some comic relief, these animals are there to save the day when it all comes down to the wire.
Turner & Hooch (1989)
First and foremost when it comes to animals saving the day is Turner & Hooch. In this heartwarming buddy cop comedy, Detective Scott Turner is left to care for a slobbering and destructive French Mastiff, named Hooch. The unlikely duo are forced together when Turner’s friend and Hooch’s owner is murdered. Looking to solve the mysterious murder, which seems to be tied to the illicit operations of a local seafood magnate, Turner must piece the clues together. And while Turner originally goes mad taking care of Hooch, he soon finds that he will need the rambunctious dog's help to take down the culprit.
The Lost Boys (1987)
In this 1980s horror thriller, two teens move to Santa Carla, California only to discover the town ridden with vampires. After Michael becomes a half-vampire himself, he and his brother Sam must find the town's other vampires to have any chance of reversing Michael's condition. Though they plot against the town's devious vampires, Michael and Sam need the help of their friends the Frog brothers, Sam's trusty dog Nannook, and a large quantity of holy water to execute their plans.
I Am Legend (2007)
After most of humanity has died off as a result of a raging virus, Dr. Neville is left alone in a desolate and post-apocalyptic world. The last person left in New York City, Dr. Neville's only companion is his German Shepherd Sam. With Sam by his side, he tries to contact any humans who might remain and begins to develop a cure for the deadly virus. But his tasks are complicated by Darkseekers, or nocturnal mutants, that hunt down the few humans who have survived. When Dr. Neville comes face to face with these Darkseekers, it's Sam's bravery that ends up saving Dr. Neville, and in turn gives humanity another chance.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring an ensemble cast that includes Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood packs in the star power. So much so, it's easy to overlook the essential role of canine companion Brandy.
In an ode to Hollywood's golden age, the film follows movie star Rick Dalton and his stunt double Cliff Booth as the two try to navigate the shifting dynamics of the movie industry at the end of the 1960s. The two seemingly incompatible friends encounter all sorts of the decade’s oddballs, and as the impending Manson murders hang on the horizon, the movie gives history a new twist thanks to Booth’s trained pit bull Brandy.
Inspired by Michael Crichton's novel of the same name, Congo follows a winding sci-fi mystery through the jungles of central Africa. After a communications company's team winds up dead in the rain forrest, a company employee joins a group of primate researchers, who are returning a gorilla named Amy, to travel to the site of the violence and find out what went wrong. As the rag tag group faces off against militias, falls prey to wild animals, and tries to unravel a far-reaching conspiracy, Amy steps up to protect them until they can safely see their journey through.
The River Wild (1994)
Hoping for some outdoor adventure, Gail takes her husband, son, and loyal yellow lab Maggie for a white water rafting trip in Idaho. However, she gets more than she bargained for when her family is joined by the men responsible for a recent robbery and murder–a fact none other than Maggie brought to light. Now the men's captives, the family must fight to survive the shifty criminals as well as the formidable rapids in this thriller starring Meryl Streep, Kevin, Bacon, and John C. Reilly.
The Drop (2014)
Bobby Saginowsky becomes embroiled in Brooklyn’s criminal underworld, when his bar, which also serves as a front for Chechen mobsters, is robbed. With mounting pressure from the mobsters to recoup their illicit money, an unsteady business partner proving ever-more volatile, and secrets from the past threatening to surface, Bobby seems doomed for tragedy. But having taken in a neglected pit bull named Rocco, Bobby is not only able to learn more about his enemies, but also find the will to take them on in this thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.
Starring Benicio del Toro, Dennis Farina, Brad Pitt, and Jason Statham, among others, Snatch is a crime comedy that follows two interwoven stories. One involves a stolen diamond, while the other centers on a boxing promoter subject to the whims of a vicious mobster. Featuring one mishap after another, the film is full of gambling, fighting, and scheming gone awry. Down on their luck, it's not until a dog steps in that the unlikely heroes' fortunes begin to change.
Men in Black (1997)
Though he is not necessarily cooperative, Frank the Pug plays an important role in helping agents J and K on their mission. He provides the two Men in Black agents with information critical to helping them track down and conceal the source behind mysterious alien interferences that have been spiraling out of control. Though Frank the Pug is actually a witty alien informant in a dog's body, he has a hand (or should I say a paw) in solving an intergalactic crisis and sparing humankind a clash with extra-terrestrial forces.
Featured still from "I Am Legend" via Warner Bros.