Critic’s Rating : 3.5 / 5
Dog Movie Review : A heartfelt road trip tale on healing
Dog Review: Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum) is a former Army ranger determined to return to the military after taking time off for head injuries in combat. Briggs is tasked with proving his dedication by taking a Belgian Malinois service dog, Lulu, to his fellow soldier’s funeral. The problem is that Lulu is temperamental and suffers from the traumas of war – just like him. After years in the military, she has become dangerously unpredictable and is likely to be put down after the funeral. Nevertheless, Briggs tries to get along with the canine he mostly refers to as ‘Dog’ on the eventful road trip.
This pet-buddy comedy-drama is Channing Tatum’s directorial debut alongside frequent collaborator Reid Carolin. While this film’s premise and outline is pretty cliché, as seen before in dog-related movies, the chemistry between Tatum and his four-legged co-star sets it apart from the others. The decision not to make the canine computer-generated or given a voiceover also does ‘Dog’ many favours, allowing for the natural pet and human connection to shine through. As lessons are learnt on both sides, familiar tropes are revisited when the man and animal find ways to make peace with their respective pasts. But Tatum’s charming banter with Lulu (played by three different dogs) is often authentic and heartfelt. Even when he’s often the only human on screen, Tatum showcases more of his range as his frustrations and anguish feel very real.
Although there are writing road bumps in the film’s screenplay, they make the journey unpredictable. Marketed more as a comedy, the film’s subject matter and tone are certainly more dramatic. Sure, there are the expected hijinks and mishaps in store when the pet’s unruly behaviour gets them both into trouble. However, even then, there’s ample depth to it all. Both Briggs and Lulu’s PTSD leads to intriguing lessons as their characters heal. While ‘Dog’ doesn’t delve into that more than expected, it still leaves a positive mark.