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Review of Channing Tatum’s directorial debut and comeback movie, ‘Dog’
CHANNING Tatum has been missing for quite a while. His last movie was the heist flick, “Logan Lucky”, by Steven Soderbergh in 2017. After that, we remember him appearing in a cameo role in Ryan Reynolds’ “Free Guy”.
Now, he’s back in two new films: “Dog” where he’s paired with a canine (and which he co-directed with screenwriter Reid Carolin) and “The Lost City”, a romance adventure with Sandra Bullock.
Both are doing well at the box office.
Tatum is now 41 but still looks so buff like his “Magic Mike” days. In “Dog”, he plays a former U.S. Ranger, Jackson Briggs, who is currently working as a server in a fast-food counter where he gets humiliated by customers. He wants to return to another active tour of duty in the Middle East but is prevented by a past brain injury.
His condition has already been cleared but his commanding officer is willing to permit him to serve again on one condition. He should personally escort first a Belgian Mallinois military working dog (a breed that looks like German Shepherd but is said to be better in doing police and military work.) The dog named Lulu is supposed to attend the funeral of his former army handler, Riley, Tatum’s former colleague who, like him, also wanted to return to service but was likewise prevented from doing so.
Tatum would have to drive Lulu all the way from Washington to Arizona. Lulu was the working canine assigned to Tatum’s former unit, so she knows Tatum personally. Like Tatum, she is also considered to be unfit to serve so they both have some healing to do from previous traumas that they experienced while in service.
After the funeral, Tatum is supposed to bring the decommissioned Lulu to a base where she will be put down as she has become very hard to handle. Her hostile and aggressive behavior has made her anathema and no other handler is willing to take care of her.
“Dog” then becomes a road movie along the Pacific Coast, between two unlike buddies who are both suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As maybe expected, they get into various hilarious misadventures along the way. In a shooting range, Tatum goes to a shooting club and while he’s gone, Lulu runs amuck and munches on his car seats. He then gives her some sedatives to put her asleep.
Tatum tries to flirt with several women but, each time, the supposed romantic interlude ends in disaster. In another incident, Tatum follows Lulu into a house and he is mistaken for a trespasser.
The hippie owner shoots him with a tranquilizer gun and when he regains consciousness, he is already all tied up, hands and feet. Another mishap occurs in a plush hotel where Tatum pretends he is a blind veteran with Lulu as his guide dog to get a free room, but he only ends up being arrested.
In this road trip of a lifetime, we learn that Tatum has a daughter who he has not seen for three years. They also get to visit Lulu’s brother, Nuke, who is living with another soldier who teaches Tatum how to handle Lulu more gently to get her full confidence.
In the process, both Tatum and Lulu learn to let their guards down for them to have another fighting chance in life. “Dog” manages to be entertaining enough but it also raises awareness about damaged soldiers and animals suffering from their post war trauma.
“Dog” is not the usual dog movie about cuddly pets because Lulu is most certainly not adorable and the directors resist getting her reactions for an easy laugh. But she grows on you and will soon win you over. (The end credits showed Lulu was played by three different dogs of the same breed.) Tatum’s movie star charm is working here full blast and he can be funny and appealing as ever.
We just find the title “Dog” too bland and generic. How we wish they had given it some other more intriguing title, like “The Power of the Dog”, with apologies to Benedict Cumberbatch.