Dog Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A brain-damaged ex-Army Ranger and a service dog with PTSD embark on an adventure throughout the Pacific coastline. But can this movie drive straight into the audiences’ hearts?
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Director: Channing Tatum & Reid Carolin.
Cast: Channing Tatum, Luke Forbes, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Kevin Nash, Janes Adams, Ethan Suplee, Junes Zhadi & Bill Burr.
Run Time: 101 min.
US Release: 18 February 2022
UK Release: 18 February 2022
German Release: 19 May 2022
I am a sucker for dog flicks, as a kid I loved Beethoven plus its sequels, watching it on re-runs, or wearing out the VHS tape. Hachiko: A Dogs Tale is one of my favourites, while Alpha was an interesting take on the first steps of domesticating wolves. Of course, most of them are sub-par, overly sentimental films, meant to force a tear or two from the audience, and I did not expect anything else from this. Still, having adopted a Cocker Spaniel who is suffering from anxiety, I was hoping Dog might maybe help me to learn a thing or two.
A former Army Ranger is tasked to bring a fellow soldier’s military Dog to his funeral. As the unequal pair race down the Pacific Coast, to make it to their destination on time, an adventure of a lifetime unleashes.
Written, as well as directed by Reid Carolin and co-directed by Channing Tatum himself, Dog is first and foremost a dramatic road trip movie, which includes a message about mental health in the military, that not only affects humans but canines alike. It perfectly delivers on point the importance of quitting when the time comes, as well as, getting the help needed for one to get back on their feet, even if that help comes from a dog. The story also contains well-written comedic moments, though not all stick the landing. The growing relationship between Belgian Malinios Lulu and Briggs is well handled, never becoming as sappy as I expected.
The screenplay has its fair share of issues nevertheless. The political message embedded is of a shallow pro-military attempt, while the left-liberal side of the political spectrum is displayed as ridiculously cartoonish. Then there are the situations that both Lulu and Briggs keep finding themselves in, once on their way to Arizona, which is simply unbelievable. Nobody is jumping from one unlucky situation to the next, on a daily basis, yet the ending was well helmed, without being overly emotional.
The dialogues are mostly monologues, as Tatum’s primarily talking partner is Lulu. However, this isn’t negative, as it is through these conversations with the dog, that the character of Briggs opens up about his real feelings, even if talking sarcastically. It is when he interacts with other human characters, that the dialogues can become a little tiresome, even clownish, as he recounts his lies about being good. Just as with the script itself, some of the funny talk works, although it mostly misses the mark.
Channing Tatum carries this movie solely, which is because for the largest portion he is the only human on screen. His performance is compelling and very charismatic, as his character is surprisingly relatable. Briggs is a hardcore soldier, who doesn’t know what else to do in life, thus once he gets grounded due to a head injury, he tries to move heaven and earth to get back into active duty. It is tough to see the character lying to himself about being fine, simply to find a purpose in life again. It is even more heartbreaking, once he bonds with Lulu, figuring out that both of them are going through the same problems.
Lulu was played by three different Belgian Malinios, Britta, Lana and Zuza. Dog was filmed right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, needing to halt production for nine months. This gave the handlers and Tatum additional time to train with the three Malinios, which resulted in an intense bonding experience, with each of the trainers adopting their working dogs once shooting was wrapped. All three gave grand, expressive performances!
The camera work is pretty standard, nothing special. Most shots are close-ups of Tatum and Lulu, with beautiful sceneries passing by in the background, or shots out of the moving car, capturing the nature of the pacific coast. There were a couple of interesting cuts, meant as a montage of the road trip, while Briggs is monologuing in the background. Other than that, the picture has that sharp digital look, yet the colours are a little too unsaturated, giving a sterile nearly grey overtone.
Verdict: Overall, this was less sappy than I expected, actually focusing on an engaging dramatic story, in which the bond between man and dog is explored. Tatum and the three Belgian Malinois, who played Lulu, have great chemistry, making their growing friendship believable. The script was fairly competently written, although the narrative deviates into silly adventures, one more ludicrous than the other. The dialogues are kept mostly short, as for the largest part it is Tatum speaking to the dog, yet that is when it is best. The cinematography is pretty standard, but the colours are too dull. Finally, all I have to say is the following; I liked Dog but it didn’t grow on me. It is good as mild entertainment, maybe during a date, however, don’t go looking for a deeper meaning in it. I’ll give it a 6.0 out of 10.
Have you seen Dog? Did it surprise you as well? Leave a comment and subscribe if you like the content. Thank you very much for reading!