Dog

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mistaken for Channing (Magic Mike) Tatum. I can’t tell you because it has never happened. Even at my youngest and in my best physical condition, I didn’t look anything like this square-jawed, athletic male model. (But I am a half inch taller.) He is perfectly cast in this film, though his acting is a bit forced at times. But cut him some slack, he’s on screen with a dog.

 

Dog is Tatum’s directorial debut. He clearly had fun with the role of Briggs, a veteran Army Ranger suffering from a traumatic brain injury. His old captain will have nothing to do with his request to make a crucial phone call attesting to a full medical recovery, unless he goes on one final mission – bring an equally emotionally traumatized dog, Lulu, to the funeral of her recently killed “Dad,” Ranger Rodriguez. There is a Rodriguez subplot.

 

It is clear that Briggs has not fully recovered as we witness him routinely popping pills and experiencing a couple of seizures before and during the road trip. Parallels have been drawn between Dog and the movies K-9 and Turner and Hooch. Those are sillier films and don’t deserve the comparison.

 

Lulu is not a German Shepherd. She is a Belgian Malinois, (A Belgian Shepherd) allegedly the healthier of the two breeds, but not recommended for people lacking experience with dog training. The heavily muzzled dog is a beautiful animal, but terrifying to look at or interact with. But being an Army Ranger gives Briggs the courage and determination to complete his mission.

 

One caveat: the mission is scheduled to end after the funeral with Lulu being euthanized, deemed too difficult to handle.

 

This is a buddy movie on several levels. The Ranger allegiance to other Rangers, one veteran to 

another, and ultimately two traveling companions on a road trip from Oregon to Arizona, with stops along the way to visit their respective “families.”

 

The opening song by John Prine laments, “How lucky can one guy get?” It’s a heartwarming introduction to the coming of age late in life by a guy who is the poster boy for how disastrous one guy can seem.

 

It’s uncertain why Q'orianka Kilcher has top billing for brief, non-speaking appearances as the mother of Briggs’ three-year old daughter. She played Angela Blue Thunder in Yellowstone.

 

Carry some Kleenex for the end of this adventure. I won’t say any more. We hugged our dog when we got home.

 

Dog (2022) runs 1 hour, 41 minutes and is rated PG-13

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