review by Drusilla Blakey
It’s been a couple years since we saw Channing Tatum in a lead role as he has been doing voice work, producing and making some great cameos. Now he is back with his latest film Dog co-starring Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Nicole LaLiberté, Luke Forbes, and Ronnie Gene Blevins.
Dog follows two former Army Rangers are paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime. Briggs and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois) race down the Pacific Coast to make it to a fellow soldier's funeral on time. This film marks Channing Tatum's directorial debut as Co-Director with long-time friend and collaborator Reid Carolin. Tatum has previously worked with Carolin, who produced the films Stop-Loss, Magic Mike, White House Down, and 22 Jump Street just to name a few.
One of the things that Tatum and Carolin have said about the making of this film was that they did not want to make a 'sad soldier movie.' Their intention was to make a fun movie with heart and this movie certainly delivers. There are many funny moments throughout the film as well as several heartbreaking moments that had me in tears. Tatum's character is a soldier who has just come home and is struggling to find his way through civilian life. We find out that he has suffered several injuries including some brain trauma. I felt that these were interesting and important themes to bring up and explore. Today we are more aware of the toll that trauma, both physical and mental, have had on our soldiers who are trying to assimilate back into 'normal' life. So I was glad that this wasn't ignored or swept away - it was front and center as something that Tatum's character is actively struggling with every day.
At the same time, a theme we know about but don't often get to explore is the trauma suffered by military dogs. They also return to civilian life, but are sometimes unable to assimilate without proper care, compassion and training. Most dogs are able to be adopted by their handles but what happens if their handler doesn't make it back? That is the overarching point of this film as they are both on their way to a funeral. Throughout the film, we go back and forth trying to decide who has suffered the most, who is still suffering and who will receive the needed treatment; Tatum or the dog?
It's an amazing story and film told in such a way that you feel deep compassion for both characters and what they have been through. At times, the dog is saying so much more than Tatum and it's through their journey together that Tatum's character really begins to open up and realize the situation they are both in.
I was deeply moved by Tatum's performance. He easily embodies the look and feel of a soldier with ease, due to his stature and physique. However, the subtleties of his performance as a 'strong man' with debilitating injuries was brilliantly captured. Also, the funny moments throughout the film were handled so naturally that you forget he's very good at comedy; he seems like a normal guy that funny things happen to sometimes. I believe this is what the Directors were going for and it was absolutely delivered.
Now, the other lead character was "Lulu" the dog and I could go on and on about how brilliant these dogs were (more than one dog was used during filming). Dogs are such amazing creatures and even though they can't speak human, their eyes tell you everything. So many emotions, traumas, sadness, playfulness was going on with this dog that I was on the edge of my seat wondering if Lulu was going to be ok. She made me laugh, she made me cry and more than anything she made me care.
I highly recommend this film for the entire family. It's moving, funny, emotional, heartfelt and overall a very well done movie that you are sure to be moved by. Grab your copy when DOG available now on digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on May 10th from MGM and Warner Bros Home Entertainment.