Channing Tatum, as a former Army Ranger with a traumatic head injury, teams up with three dogs as one former Army Ranger Belgian Malinois with PTSD. They hit the road to go to the funeral of one of their fellow (human) soldiers.
Dog is a comedy, of course.
Well, they tell me Dog is a comedy. I didn’t see much evidence of that. As the road trip starts out, in weirdo Oregon, there’s a detour into chakras and edibles and “unicorns and rainbow vaginas” during which the movie verges on being authentically funny, like it’s thinking about it and might get around to being funny in a bit, if it can be bothered. Unless — oh, damn, wait a minute! — the Pacific Northwest hippie shit is meant to be funny just in itself. Yes, I’m afraid that’s it.
There was a moment where I thought Dog might accidentally cross over into Pig, which could have been hilarious, but the moment passed.
Tatum (Free Guy, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part), who is called Briggs in the movie, is okay with the chakra-and-rainbow-vagina stuff if he thinks going along with it will get him laid. He’s generally okay with being a scam artist whenever he thinks it will get him something he wants. Like how, as the drive continues, he and the dog — called Lulu — end up in a fancy hotel San Francisco because Briggs is cool with taking advantage of civilian good will toward wounded veterans. At the same time this movie is also about, it hopes, sincerely invoking good will toward wounded veterans. So I’m not sure if the movie is taunting us for actually liking it, if we do. (I didn’t, much. Dogs are great, though.)
There was a moment in the fancy-hotel section where Dog threatened to go a bit Turner & Hooch, but thankfully it mostly swerves that.
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that Dog is a comedy of the reluctant-buddy type. Cuz Briggs and Lulu don’t want to be together, and only Reasons have prompted them to team up. But just as the movie takes its third turn into yet another completely different kind of movie and gets all earnest — the plot all but stops for a PSA for veterans — Briggs and Lulu drop the “reluctant” part, because they are now helping each other heal. The schmaltz may be slightly more convincing than the comedy, but it’s a low bar to get over.
Yes, there is a bit with Tatum in a wet T-shirt, for those who need that.
Which reminds me that Tatum teamed up — presumably not reluctantly — with Magic Mike screenwriter Reid Carolin, and the two of them make their joint directorial debut here. Carolin wrote the script with Brett Rodriguez, who is a former personal assistant to Tatum making his feature debut. In case you wondered how movies like this come about.