Review ‘Dog’: Man and Beast Hit the Road

Street comedies that pair an animal and a movie star are themselves a subgenre. The best examples, in my opinion, involve Clint Eastwood and an orangutan named Clydealthough the recent one with Eastwood and a rooster not bad. Channing Tatum is a different kind of screen presence – sweeter, funnier, bulkier – and in “Dog,” the movie he directed with Reid Carolin, he shared the screen in a way. Be gentle with (spoiler alert!) A dog.

She is a Belgian Malinois named Lulu (played by three talented canines), and she has served in the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. So does Tatum’s character, Jackson Briggs, a former Ranger who lives in a log cabin in the Northwest. A history of brain injury has kept him out of action, but he hopes that a good word from his commanding officer will give him a chance to return abroad.

For that to happen, Jackson agreed to accompany Lulu from Fort Lewis, Ore., to Nogales, Ariz. While “Dog” is a movie about best friends between humans and animals, it also deals with grief, trauma, and the challenges of post-battle life. Lulu and Jackson are both wounded warriors who must learn to trust each other and help each other heal.

Though largely fueled by Lulu’s ferocity, the film is lightheartedly humorous and barely dangerous. She chewed on a chair in Jackson’s dilapidated Ford Bronco, messed up his potential three with a pair of Tantra practitioners in Portland, and caused an unfortunate mess in a San Francisco hotel. Jackson has had incredibly awkward, hostile, and touching human encounters, especially with New Age cannabis growers and a racist, resentful police officer.

“The dog” is the unwavering affection. A movie about a dog and a soldier could hardly be different. Fortunately, Tatum’s self-deprecating charm and Carolin’s screenplay kept the story on the bearable maudlin side. It also introduces Lulu and Jackson’s war experience, vaguely interpreted as something terrible but also glorious. None are as complicated as real dogs or real people, which makes the movie easy to watch, but at the expense of some credibility. It is friendly and eager to please, but it will not quite hunt.

Rated PG-13. Barking more than biting. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. In the theater. Review ‘Dog’: Man and Beast Hit the Road

Fry Electronics Team

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