Director: Reid Carolin, Channing Tatum
Writer: Reid Carolin, Brett Rodriguez
Cast: Channing Tatum, Luke Forbes, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Junes Zahdi, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Seen on: 18.7.2022
Content Note: suicide, (critical treatment of) racism
Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum) had to leave the army after a head injury. Ever since his return home from Iraq, he has been struggling, but he is hoping to get back on his feet with a new job. They need the clearance of his commanding officer though, and not just a clean bill of health. When a fellow Army Ranger passes, Jackson gets the chance to talk to Ranger Jones (Luke Forbes), hoping to get his recommendation. But Jones gives him a task instead: he has to drive Lulu, a canine Army Ranger who belonged to the deceased, to his funeral and then to an army station where the severely traumatized dog will probably be put down. Seeing no other way to get the recommendation, Jackson agrees. But driving with Lulu brings its own challenges.
Dog is a bit of tear-jerker, and I do mean that in a neutral way. It sometimes gets to genuine emotion, sometimes it is stuck a little too much in stereotypes. But it is pretty watchable throughout.
Dog is billed as a comedy and drama, but I have to say that the comedy parts are best forgotten about. The jokes don’t work for the most part and feel at odds with the otherwise serious topic of the film. In fact, it took me a second to think about the movie to remember the parts that can be considered comedy.
But the dramatic bits work very well, though I have to admit that I both have a very soft spot for dogs (in real life) and for ex-soldiers with PTSD (in fiction). It is not surprising how the film plays out and it doesn’t give us much new insight into the difficulties veterans face when they come home – between abandonment and worship. But Tatum works the role very well and makes Jackson’s struggles very real.
I think it’s a challenge to watch this movie with dry eyes, at least if you, too, have a dog waiting at home for you. (I left the cinema with a desperate desire to cuddle mine.) It tries very hard to make you cry, and it succeeds. But there are also moments where I was very uncomfortable. Jackson’s attempts to get laid had a tinge of misogyny, as was Jackson’s visit with his ex (Q’orianka Kilcher) that we barely get to see and that leaves us with the decided impression that she is just a bitch. And the moment where they go after a homeless guy (Ronnie Gene Blevins) was only saved by Suplee’s Noah and the way he points out that many veterans end up homeless. But then again, even if there was no chance of him being a veteran, he would have deserved a little more lightness of touch.
Overall though, the film does a good job of combining a bit of kitsch with a harsh reality. Even if it is a little uneven, especially when it comes to the supposedly funny parts, it is enjoyable. Plus, the dog is a cutie.
Summarizing: if you’re looking for a good cry, go for it.