Within the first five minutes, you know exactly what kind of movie Dog is going to be. We’ve seen similar stories countless times. But despite this, it still manages to mostly be an enjoyable time. A movie like Dog can only function if it knows what kind of movie it is, and functions within those limitations. Don’t do too much, don’t do too little, and have funny and emotional moments. Dog has that formula down nicely, which makes it a solid time at the theater.
Dog follows Briggs (Channing Tatum), an Army Ranger who is trying to find his way back to deployment after suffering a head injury in combat. The movie demonstrates how challenging that can be as he gets turned down and has to jump through dozens of hoops just to get a phone call made about it. At one point, his commanding officer gives him one job to do. He does this job and a phone call will be made to help get him back into active duty. That job is to take an army trained dog named Lulu 1500 miles to her former partner Riley’s funeral. Seems simple, right? The main issue with this is that Lulu is a chaotic dog that doesn’t fully know how to be a normal animal when she’s not in combat. And to make matters worse, Briggs has no idea how to handle a dog. Alas, we have our movie.
At this point, you know exactly what the next hour is going to hold. The writers understood the assignment and simply wrote some funny moments for both Lulu and Briggs as they experience growing pains and misadventures. One issue with this is that Briggs doesn’t really come off super likable for 75% of the film. Because of this, it makes it challenging to root for him as our protagonist. They could have balanced his character better.
Dog deals with the military, but you don’t have to be incredibly familiar with it to enjoy the movie. That being said, there are aspects about PTSD and veterans being homeless that the movie briefly touches on. This works well, but it could have benefited from exploring these aspects a bit more. There is a lot to be said when it comes to characters like Briggs who only know how to do one thing: serve their country. What do they do when that isn’t an option anymore? It isn’t always the prettiest thing and Dog chooses to keep it more light-hearted, which works overall. But spending a little more time on points they briefly touched on could have went a long way.
Dog does a decent job at comedy, and at times Lulu has better comedic timing than Briggs. And in the final act, the script begins to get more emotional and that is when the film shines the most. It is fairly easy to write a buddy comedy script involving a dog, but the emotional scenes have to hit hard. This is where the movie slightly exceeds expectations. There are moments when Lulu shows how much of a bond she had with Riley, and that his death actually means something to her. Briggs realizes this too and continues to become more fond of Lulu, as the sweet moments really bring Dog home in the final stretch. At its core, the story is one of self-discovery for Briggs. He realizes that maybe he can live a normal life without being in the Army. And Lulu is the main reason for this realization.
If you’re looking for a fun movie to watch for an hour and half, you can’t go wrong with Dog. It isn’t going to blow your mind or reinvent the wheel, but there are plenty of funny and touching moments that make it worthwhile. At the end of the day, who doesn’t love a movie involving a cute dog?