Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
THE BACKSEAT — There have been some movies out there where the marketing doesn't seem to fit the film itself. Meaning, you see the trailer, expect one thing and then get something completely different when you walk into the theater.
I have no doubt you've all had this experience.
This is exactly what happened to me when I walked in to see the new film "Dog." I was expecting one movie and got something completely different. But here is the good news: What I got was far better than what I was expecting.
Here are a few reasons "Dog" is a pleasant surprise.
It's full of heart
When I saw the trailers for "Dog," starring Channing Tatum, I was ready for a comedy with a few moments to pull at your heartstrings — maybe something along the lines of "Marley and Me." Something with plenty of laughs and some moments that get you choked up. That's not what I got.
"Dog" is listed as a comedy, but it's much more of a drama. There are some moments that will make you laugh, but the film is much heavier than I was expecting — and that wasn't a bad thing. The film deals with issues of mental illness, self-worth, suicide and finding one's self.
These issues are played out with heart and sincerity, and I don't think it was cheapened with schmaltzy approaches or solutions. Somehow "Dog" shows us that life is difficult but also has beauty all around, and we often find it in the most unexpected places.
Channing Tatum and the dog are all we need
While lots of characters show up throughout the film as our leads trek across most of the western coast of the United States, it's mainly just Tatum and the dog. And it works.
Tatum has a charm that's difficult to deny, and he's approachable as the battered veteran trying to find his place in the world. He's not often seen as the greatest actor, but I bought his portrayal here.
Then you have the dog. What can I say? The dog in this film is adorable. I fell in love with her pretty much from the moment I meet her.
Tatum and the dog provide the entire backbone of the movie, and that is fine with me. This is pretty much a buddy, road trip movie, and Tatum and the canine pull it off well.
We all need this message
I mentioned this earlier, but I love the message "Dog" carries: We all go through dark times and struggles, but we can make it through — and it's often those around us who pull us out. Sometimes those who get us out of the tailspin are the last ones we expected.
"Dog" reminds us that life may not go the way we planned. We may not end up with the job we thought we would, but that can turn out to be the best thing that could have happened for us. It shows us that everyone has a purpose here and that we're all important in our own way, even if we don't feel like we are.
It's a wake-up call that there are many around us who may be struggling even though we can't see it, and that letting them know we care can literally save a life.
You need to see the film to understand what I mean, but I think it's worth it to find out.
Where it doesn't work
I seem to be putting pretty high praise on "Dog" — and I think it earns some praise — but this is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the jokes fall flat and some of the moments feel forced. There is one scene, in particular, that was played for laughs in Portland, but I think it was a big swing and a miss.
What parents need to know
"Dog" is rated PG-13 and it owns that moniker. Despite the fact this is a movie about a man and his dog, this is not a kid's movie. There is a fair amount of language, drug use and sexually suggestive content.
The biggest thing is what I've already mentioned: It's a movie that deals with some heavy subjects. I think many are subjects that are good for teens, or even preteens to experience. But as a parent, you need to decide what you think is appropriate for your family.
Should I go see 'Dog'?
I was not planning on liking this movie as much as I did, but it won me over. "Dog" isn't trying to make a run at the Academy Awards, and I appreciated that. The filmmakers wanted to tell a story about overcoming and the power of friendship, and they did just that.
I think "Dog" hit me differently as mental illness has played a role in my life and the lives of those around me, about how important it is to be willing to face those issues and reach out to those quietly dealing with their own demons.
If you want something a little different, and to maybe get choked up while enjoying a laugh or two, then I think "Dog" is a great choice for a night out at the movies.
"Dog" is rated PG-13 for language, thematic elements, drug content and some suggestive material.