The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
There is nothing about “Dog” that will offend your cinematic senses, nor is there anything in the film which will reinvent the wheel. This is a simple movie with a simple concept. For a lot of filmgoers, they probably love the idea of a dog movie starring Channing Tatum, who also co-directed the film with its screenwriter, Reid Carolin. For some people, they are fine with a film that just leaves them feeling happy and does not require a lot of thought behind it. They simply kick back their feet and enjoy themselves. At times, I believe film can be a great form of escapism when done right. In the case of “Dog,” there are individual moments that worked in the film, but as a whole, it’s missing a lot of key ingredients.
“Dog” follows Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum), a former U.S. Army Ranger, who is having a tough time adjusting to regular life. He has brain injuries and PTSD. When the film opens, he’s making sandwiches at a sandwich shop, which is clearly not the best use of his skills. Because of this, he’s eager to do something that will challenge and excite him. He wants to be put on the rotation for Pakistan, but there are major concerns about his health and if he will be able to handle it. He assures them he is fine, but it is clear he’s struggling.
When one of his former squad members is killed in a car accident, he is given the task of driving Lulu, a Belgian Malinois military dog, to Arizona for the funeral. If he does this successfully, they will put in a good word for Briggs for a future tour. After the funeral, Lulu, because of its violent nature, will have to be put down. From here, the film turns into a road trip movie with Briggs and Lulu. The dog causes a lot of headaches for him, especially when he’s trying to have sex. There is also a comical run-in with a psychic and her paranoid husband, played by former professional wrestler Kevin Nash. It was great to see Nash on the big screen once again. There is also a cameo by comedian Bill Burr.
There are other encounters along the way for both Briggs and Lulu. Some of them are successful and some of them are unsuccessful. Some of them are funny, and some of them are what you would expect in a road trip movie featuring Tatum and a dog. I imagine that was a big selling point for the film. Considering the low budget for the film and its final box office numbers, it was a low-risk, high reward project for the studio. From an artistic standpoint, the film has real issues with its pacing. It’s very slow-moving and tedious to sit through at times, even though it’s 101 minutes. Tatum is a fine actor, but he’s not the kind of actor who is going to keep my interest for an entire film as the lead. Even though I love animals, the same is true of the dog.
This is a feel-good flick with a lackluster story. It’s not a bad movie. It’s average, run-of-the-mill, and forgettable. After it was over with, there wasn’t anything from the film that really stayed with me. Considering its subject material (the impact and healing powers of animals and the real struggles the military deals with from a mental health perspective), they could have done a lot more here. Instead, they played it safe and easy with a formulaic film that needed a little more bite to it, no pun intended. There are some laughs to be had here, especially with some of the cast members I mentioned, but they are few and far between. I’m sure a lot of families and Tatum fans will enjoy this film. It didn’t do it for me, however.
* * out of * * * *
Blu-ray Info: “Dog” is released on a two-disc Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, which also comes with a digital copy of the film. It is rated PG-13 for language, thematic elements, drug content, and some suggestive material. It has a running time of 101 minutes.
Video/Audio Info: The film comes on 1080p High Definition with two audio tracks: DTS-HD MA: English 5.1 and Dolby Digital: English Descriptive Audio. Subtitles are in English and Spanish.
Should You Buy It?
I can’t think of any reason to buy this film unless you are part of the Channing Tatum fan club. The film has its heart in the right place, so I can’t fault it for that. It just doesn’t want to try to break out of its formula. The film follows all of the familiar beats one would expect in a film like this, and it ends exactly how you would expect it to end. It follows the formula from A to Z. It does not take any chances or have any surprises, whatsoever. I don’t even think it’s worth a Redbox rental. It’s a film you can completely pass on, and you will be just fine. The Blu-ray does not come with any special features, which is a bummer. It would have been nice to see how Tatum worked with the dog and some of the challenges it presented for the actor. I feel like the Grinch giving this film a bad review, but its screenplay is just lazy and the pacing is really rough. I’d pass on this one altogether.
**Disclaimer** I received a Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.