The premise of this film, ‘Transporting a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) canine to her former handler’s funeral conjures an image of a sentimental and emotion-laden film. But alas! ‘Dog’ struggles to be a goofy road film of a human and a dog, who are a lot alike, at least in their mental state.
Tatum plays Jackson Briggs, an Army Ranger who is desperate to get back into action after getting sidelined by a brain injury that induces seizures. His desire to return to the service only intensifies after the death of Riley Rodriguez, a Ranger and one of his best friends. Briggs pleads to his former commanding officer to recommend that he – be allowed to return to the service.
So, to be in the good books of his commanding officer, he accepts an assignment to drive Lulu, an Army dog who served in Afghanistan, so that she may attend the funeral of her late handler in Arizona, and later to deliver her to an Army base near the funeral site to be euthanized, as Army dogs with PTSD are not fit for adoption.
The trip involves a 1,500-mile drive down the Pacific coast, and it is a combination of a ‘Buddy’ cum ‘Road’ film. Its plot chronicles the series of misadventures the duo face and how they gradually bond over some time.
Their trip begins with Lulu destroying the interior of Briggs’ lovingly restored utility vehicle. This sets the tone of what lies ahead for them. With Lulu being a complicated dog and Tantum having his complications, both need healing in one form or the other, but the narrative chugs along with other insensitive portrayals and half-hearted sentiments.
This includes; Briggs’ ill-fated romantic encounter with a pair of aging wanton women, then becoming captive of a suspicious marijuana grower (Kevin Nash) and his psychic wife (Jane Adams), followed by getting arrested for impersonating a blind man to get a complimentary stay in a fancy hotel, and the list continues.
In short, the script progresses dispassionately in an episodic format that oscillates between social drama and broad comedy as the two of them encounter numerous obstacles and a variety of eccentric characters, stretching the credibility of the narrative along the way. Also, the tonal imbalance and mismanaged themes make the entire trip appear perfunctory. It is only in the last twenty minutes of the screen time that the sentimentality of the journey sinks in, but by then, it is too late.
Mounted with moderate production values there is nothing to write home about the performances too. Tatum and the entire cast are just average in their delivery.
Overall, the film is technically well-made but lacks depth in emotions and gravitas.
Directors: Reid Carolin, Channing Tatum
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Q’orianka Kilcher, Nicole LaLiberte, Luke Forbes, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Duration: 101 minutes
–By Troy Ribeiro