In 2001 BMW put out a series of 8 short films, all starring Clive Owen and collectively called The Hire. Though each was shot by a well-known director, they were all essentially chase sequences with Owen driving a slick Beamer and doing his best James Bond (quite a stretch, but perhaps still better than Lazenby).

What BMW did for its cars, Lexus now appears to be doing for the dog. They don’t go as fast, but they’re a helluva lot cuter.

Puppy Love is produced by Amy Harris (Sex and the City) and brought to us by Lexus’ L Studio. Along with Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy, it’s part of their “eclectic collection of unique perspectives to inspire you.” You’ve got to give Lexus credit for using such subliminal marketing in attempt to bring traffic to their product. So far there’s hardly a single car to be seen. Just (I’m guessing) Lexus car-owners with puppies. Adorable ones. You watch and you scream, “I want one!” And then all of a sudden you’re behind the wheel of an LS Hybrid (at least I think that’s the idea).

As far as the films/videos themselves go, thanks to a presumably hefty budget, we get great production values and solid acting (Famke Jansen stars in the show). But we also get a certain je-nes-sais-quois-mainstream quality that feels targeted towards the lowest common denominator. They don’t have any lines, but dogs in each of the installments are the true stars. With their submissive body language and those heartbreaking eyes, Harris clearly uses the canines to access some base human emotions.

Each story charts man’s best friend and how he can either help us or hurt us when it comes to relationships. ‘Upstaged’ is all about dog as babe-magnet, while ‘Puppy Love’ counters with dog-as-relationship-thwarter by being dog-as-mate (no, not in that way).

‘Upstaged’ has a certain sweet melancholy in charting man’s (played by Jason Gray-Stanford) march through rejection to a surprise happy ending, and feels less cloying than ‘Puppy Love,’ which, though well-crafted, is overwhelmed by a pervasive, snarkily judgmental tone directed towards us as humans. When four friends chat at a restaurant table, you can’t help but be reminded of Sex and the City.

If you’ve always wondered what the Fab Four would be like with pets, this is your show. If not, there’s still those puppy shots. The slick series ultimately seems aimed at those who love to say ‘awww.’ Check it out at LStudio.Lexus.com.

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