Movie Review: “Dog” – SM Mirror

Rated PG-13
101 minutes
Released February 18

Kudos on a job well done to Channing Tatum and his longtime collaborator Reid Carolin, each on his first outing as a director on the movie Dog. Tatum’s career began in 2000 when he was cast as a dancer in a Ricky Martin video. He worked as a model, dancer and stripper before shooting the movie that made him famous, Magic Mike (2012). Carolin was one of Magic Mike’s producers and writers and has worked with Tatum often since then, including on White House Down, 22 Jump Street, Magic Mike XXL and Logan Lucky. In 2017, they were both producers of a documentary called War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend, an in-depth study of the bonds forged between veterans and their canine companions during combat and the return to family life. No doubt this documentary laid the groundwork and inspired Chien.

Tatum, an instinctive comedian, is revealed here as an extraordinary dramatic actor, illustrating once again my theory that comedy and tragedy are the same instinct. Tatum reaches the depths for this role of “Briggs”. It is sometimes comic, then tragic and often frightening. He does a phenomenal job creating the character of a soldier who has literally been to hell for so long that trauma is normal for him.

Lulu or “Dog” as Briggs calls her, underwent rigorous training to become a war dog and was immersed in the terrors of war. For both man and dog, war had become their way of life. Briggs and Dog are thrown together on a 1,500-mile road trip from Oregon to his master’s funeral in Nogales, a desert town on the Arizona-Mexico border.

The unsung stars of the film are the Belgian Malinois dogs Britta, Lana 5 and Zuza. This breed is often considered a war dog because they are very easy to train, which also makes them good actors. Their energy level is so high that they have to work to be happy. They are affectionate and loyal – also extremely demanding, intense and emotional. So don’t quit the theater and go out and adopt a Belgian Malinois unless you’re a personal trainer, long-distance runner, or enjoy walking 5-10 miles a day – with your dog. I’m happy to report that the three canine artists were officially adopted by their trainers at the end of filming!

Dog is much more than a romantic road trip about a man and his dog. This deeply moving film explores the increasingly common situation of soldiers forced to transition from the battlefield environment into civilian existence without significant rehabilitation assistance. It is an in-depth study of the emotional and physical effects of war on both soldiers and their war dogs. For those of us who have never experienced an actual battlefield, this is hard to fathom. This story allows us a certain perception. If you’ve never had PTSD, you’ll get a taste of the pain. It’s not something you can just take off like a sweater once you get back into a peacetime environment. This film skillfully depicts the struggle of the “lucky ones” who can come home, but who can never truly get back to the life they left behind.

This film highlights the value of dogs’ highly developed instincts as healers of struggling humans. Often we don’t realize how much we can learn from dogs and other animals, who are more in touch with their feelings than we humans are with our cluttered brains. This movie will remind you who really has the upper hand emotionally and the importance of our relationship with animals. PS Note that Tatum had a much loved pit bull/Catahoula mix named Lulu.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a talent manager at Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. [email protected]

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