Where I Watched It: VOD

Description Provided By: Deluxe

What is there to say about a film named Dog? Like, is it going to start a franchise of really blunt and obviously titled films? is Cat next? Horse? Technically, Nicolas Cage took Pig off the table last year. Perhaps, Dog is the spiritual sequel to Pig, but based on the extreme differences in style, I’m going to go with no.

Channing Tatum stars here as a soldier with some unresolved PTSD who sees no future for himself other than one where he’s allowed to return to combat. He tries everything, and eventually his commanding officer gives him a shot at potential redemption. He has to drive a canine soldier to the funeral of his handler. This dog, lulu, is described as being hell on wheels, so he has to be careful.

So then the film becomes a road trip movie about two damaged individuals (one of them being a dog) learning personal growth (barely), but ultimately doing that thing most animal movies do, and finding a friend in each other. Tatum’s cold cold heart is melted, and Lulu has a human that she trusts. Bring your Kleenex.

There are some interesting “walk the line” moments happening here where the movie tries to appeal to a potentially right of the aisle audience, but also doesn’t stray too far, knowing Tatum’s appeal extends the other way too. He attracts a youthful demo, still heavily female, but this film is designed to attract pro-military, so it can’t really do or say anything politically. It seems to want to say something about veterans when they get home, as in the beginning Tatum is working in some kind of Subway type food establishment, and some kid overreacts when he puts the wrong vegetable on the sub. Obviously, that kid needed to calm the fuck down. It’s little moments like that, creeping in, that let you know some thought was put into teh film, but don’t expect this to start a riot.

The biggest positive for me, and this is due in large part to the audio description doing a great job of tracking Lulu, is that this dog gives an actual performance. There are many scenes where Lulu is expected to show emotional trauma, as we experience (like we did in Max) that dogs have PTSD as well. Lulu is scared of things, afraid of being abandoned, and all of that comes through the performance, which means Lulu also has one hell of a trainer/handler.

Tatum is doing some soft, but nice work here. He clearly still wants to keep doing films that could eventually get him back in an Oscar conversation, like he was with Foxcatcher, and while Dog won’t get him there, it won’t necessarily hurt his chances either. interestingly, he’s also credited as one of the two directors here, so it might also be his directorial debut, which somehow feels less celebratory when you share it with someone else.

The negative? i was bothered that Tatum’s character so flippantly had no problem faking blindness to get a free hotel room, and use Lulu as an untrained seeing eye dog. I’m interested to know how other blind individuals felt about the inclusion of this scene, as well as whether or not the film makes up for it by giving his character a slap on the wrist.

but, ultimately, even though I couldn’t see Lulu, who i assume is adorable and terrifying at the same time, I still love dog movies as a blind person. So perhaps, my grading is skewed a bit here, as this is a pretty easy film to serve up to me. And, it was actually fairly well made, with characters I resonated with, and a plot about veterans that we should all be able to get behind.

Final Grade: B

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