Stories about heroic pets, especially dogs, have always fallen on somewhat stony ears with me. The thing is, filmmakers try hard to sell the idea of the heroic animal, but I’m already there, you don’t have to yank hard on my heartstrings. It’s like movies that try so hard to be funny it makes them not funny. The tagline is clever: A filthy animal unfit for human company and a…DOG. But I can always watch Channing Tatum, and Belgian Malinois are super handsome dogs that are a treat to look at, so I sat down with my box of Kleenex and turned on the tv.
Opening credits run over shots of birth certificates. The cute as a button pup Lulu, in the 7th Ranger Regiment, and her handler Sgt. Rodriguez are paired on the paper trail that evolves into a montage of the two at war, a unique blend of vicious and adorable. The inevitable happens as it will at war and they both end up back in the states. Jackson Briggs, a buddy of Rodriguez, trying to make a comeback from his own war related issues, is desperate to get back into uniform. He’s so desperate he takes a deal: drive psychotic Lulu down the west coast to Rodriguez’s funeral and you’ll be reinstated. Their trip does not go smoothly.
Tatum is his usual talented self. He’s a beefy studmuffin (I might be gay, but I can still admire) with an obvious heart of gold and a way with humor. Here he plays a barely civilized narcissist who only sees the dog as a means to an end. She is suitably dangerous, and the writers play with that. The plot is completely predictable, but this is not the kind of movie you watch for surprises. The dangerous dog angle is a little different but it’s mostly played for dark comedy, and the occasional mild cliffhanger. I totally would not have been surprised to see her devour the cute little shih tzus the “sex therapists” were carrying.
Some of the supporting cast is inspired, my favorite being the sequence with the aging Oregon pot growing hippies. Gus is played by another pro wrestler turned comic actor, Kevin Nash (Magic Mike’s Last Dance, WrestleMania 37). It’s a great piece of story, and he’s perfect here. I now want to see him in a movie with Dave Bautista. Seattle actress Jane Adams plays his dog taming psychic wife Tamara. Her small, funny bit in the movie casts a shadow over all the rest, and she is portrayed more sympathetically than you might expect.
You know this is a movie about healing and redemption, and as such it’s a solid film. The cinematography is well done, and shows off areas of the west coast to great effect. There was no weakness in the acting, and the music was okay. If you’re in the mood for a good happy cry at a predictable but pleasing story, this is for you. Even if you think you’re tired of seeing this story I still recommend it.
CFR: In Addition:
OMG, Mildred! I love dogs. I have two currently and one that passed a few years ago that charmed everyone at work with her “adore me” ways. So I have not yet seen this movie because movies about animals, all animals, make me just cry!! Even if they are happy. So yes I do want to see this but wow, I will need to be emotionally ready. That puts the timeline for seeing this on the never date. Then again, you never know.
I’m glad they make loving movies about animals. Animals are the best. Dogs are made of the good. And yes you can quote me.