Movies featuring animals as the main character can be contrived and pull at the heartstrings. A lot of the time, they end up talking, but not in the case of Dog. That is a part of the charm of the film. We pretty much see everything through the main human character in the movie.
Briggs (Channing Tatum) is an Army Ranger recovering from PTSD from his time in the Middle East. He is trying to get back into active service when he gets a call to go to a bar for a party for a deceased former soldier in arms who he knew. While there, his old captain gives him hell about trying to get back into the Army. After a long night of drinking libations, he ends up getting woken up by said captain. He was sleeping in his truck. The captain offers him a job to ensure he’ll be able to get back into service. He needs to take the deceased soldier’s dog, Lulu, to his funeral in Arizona. This is easier said than done.
Channing Tatum has come a long way as an actor since his days in Coach Carter back in 2005. He has exercised his ability to do comedy in the 21 Jump Street films and created a sex appeal for himself in the Magic Mike films. In Dog, Tatum has a little bit of both of these traits. He embraces his comedy abilities while also using his good looks and physique to attract women at bars. Tatum’s career has come full circle, and now he’s also a creative component behind the scenes.
Reid Carolin and Tatum direct the film, keeping the run time down to a tight 90 minutes. Carolin also writes the script with others. He and Tatum have a pretty good plan regarding this film and how it should feel and look. The shorter runtime and the compact script make for a movie that can be successful. A road trip movie doesn’t require much as far as a budget, either. The supporting cast isn’t that big of names. Tatum is the biggest name in the film. It is a vehicle for him, so he kept everything nice and compact.
The film is a road trip movie, and the characters travel the length of the west coast. The vistas, mountain ranges, oceans, streams, and general wilderness are shot beautifully by Newton Thomas Sigel. These are the kinds of scenes I want in a road trip film like this. The music, specifically the opening credits song by John Prine, “How Lucky Can One Man Get”, is great. It overlays the story of Lulu’s life in the credits, which is done impeccably. The score by Thomas Neeman is fantastic. It plays along with the overall theme of the film very nicely.
The film has some excellent ways to get the story of Lulu and her first owner, Sergeant Riley Rodriguez (Eric Urbiztondo), across without wasting too much time on it. The heart and soul of the film is the relationship between Tatum’s character and Lulu. The comedy that ensues with their relationship is gold. It reminds me of Turner & Hooch, another dog partnership film. The humor isn’t forced or shoehorned into the film. It’s a natural comedy based on the things a strange dog would do if it didn’t know what was going on or who this new person in his life was. Add in dog anxiety, and you get some crazy scenes.
Dog was a sweet road trip movie with a beautiful burgeoning relationship between these two soldiers who needed a friend to care about each of them. Tatum gets the bottom line of what this film is, and the end product is a lovely little film. The script, cinematography, and score all add nice elements to a movie people should see. I didn’t have high expectations for this film, but I’m a sucker for a good animal relationship film. People will love this film and fall in love with this partnership.
3 1/2 stars
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media