Dog Movie

Dog, starring Channing Tatum and Lulu (played by a Belgian Malinois) is a charming movie, and I say charming in the positive sense of the word. The underlying themes raise serious issues of PTSD and the damage many of us veterans have suffered not just emotionally, but physically from various events in our careers.

Tatum is a discharged Army Ranger trying to get work with a contractor, but he needs a clean bill of health before they will hire him (this is one part that stretches credulity; as if they would care). He needs the endorsement of his former commander in the Ranger Battalion. But the death of a fellow Ranger presents a trade situation. The commander will endorse him if he takes that veteran’s working dog, also a hero of deployments, to the funeral as requested by the family. Unfortunately, the dog is considered too far gone for recovery and on the road trip he’s supposed to drop it at an army base to be put down.

This means, of course, road trip. The dog, Lulu, is also damaged in the same way he is. The termination order might seem extreme but the dog seems unredeemable. Before you act surprised, remember that NONE of our working dogs in Vietnam were brought back. Yeah. I know.

The road trip is enjoyable but also surprising at moments with people who appear to be one thing turning out to be something entirely different. This is a theme I always like. Tatum is fun in his attempts to get laid in Portland bar as a former Ranger. A scene with an Arab-American the dog attacks is also well done.

This is not necessarily a movie for children as the theme of being damaged and needing to deal with that is serious. However, there is enough humor sprinkled throughout to lighten the mood.

This movie is satisfying. There were scenes that would have been very easy to push and exploit for emotion, such as the funeral, but it was done with restraint; in fact, there was no dialogue in that scene. The military scenes were pretty realistic—sorry, but no one like MPs.

Well done and recommended. Maggie and Scout also recommend it.