February 18th, 2022
STARRING: CHANNING TATUM, KEVIN NASH, JANE ADAMS, ETHAN SUPLEE
DIRECTED BY: REID CAROLIN, CHANNING TATUM
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The premise is Channing Tatum and a dog. How could you lose? I have to admit, I was a bit worried at first, where the pairing seemed too cute, and not enough driving it to even be a movie to pay money for. Dog is a movie about an Army ranger- played by Tatum- given the task to escort a combat dog from Texas to Arizona to attend the funeral of his old military friend. Along the way there is a lot for both to learn, about friendship, loyalty, becoming honest with yourself, and a few belly rubs along the way. Dog may be a standard “man and his best friend” road trip affair, but it’s still a worthy ride that warms the heart.
Tatum’s character is Briggs, an Army ranger that was recently discharged due to too many concussions from his experience in battle. His life has been plagued by headaches, ears ringing, pain medicine, and night terrors. Because of it, he’s without a place to go, working jobs below his life experience, making sandwiches at a Subway, and trying to get his papers cleared to get back into the fight. What he needs is an okay by a senior officer and when his begging becomes persistent, he’s offered the job of ushering the dog, and then maybe he will be given that second chance. Sounds easy enough, but this is Lulu, a fierce German shepherd mix that’s already seen her share in the fight. The question becomes if Briggs can handle the pup and we get to sit by their side to see the fun, frustration, and love that begins to develop.
An interesting fact about Dog is that it’s also Channing Tatum’s first venture into directing, working alongside his co-director and screenwriter Reid Carolin. It’s not that the audience can’t see where Dog is headed narratively, but it’s how Tatum and Carolin take the story seriously, starting with hollow setups of Briggs using the dog to catch the eye of prospective single women, a run-in with a Marijuana farmer and his lovely wife (played delightfully by Kevin Nash and Jane Adams) and eventually seeing the dark moments when the human needs the dog just as much as the dog needs him. What began as time passing in the car, capturing Briggs chatting to his furry friend, soon develops into the human noticing that this dog’s presence is comfort, and having that dog is better therapy than he was ever willing to get.
There’s also just an insatiable calming nature to Dog as a film. Tatum is undoubtedly charming, while furry Lulu is a perfect mixture of adorableness, non-stop barking, ready to chew apart a car seat and then be a cuddly friend. There’s an absence of danger threatening the life of the Lulu- a wise choice because that would have been a major detriment to the story- but a more general care for both animals and humans. Carolin navigates the path with a gentle hand and steers the story into Briggs learning about humility, especially when he meets up with another ex-Army ranger- played by Ethan Suplee- and the conversation focuses on homeless veterans and a need for mental health for those with PTSD. It may be a brief moment in the trip but each stop builds properly towards the climactic ending of Dog.
If there are complaints to have about Dog it’s that maybe there’s not enough plot or maybe it’s too predictable, but that’s not Tatum and Carolin’s goal. At the center is a refreshing outlook at redemption, a releasing of the clenched fist of masculine men that are too proud to have flaws, and a companionship with an animal that many of us can relate with. The scenery along the way is filled with golden sunsets, you will laugh a little, smile a whole lot, and tears might even pour out of your eyes. Dog is a furry friendly companion. I give it two paws up.
DOG IS PLAYING IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 18TH, 2022
Written by: Leo Brady