Dog Review: Give Channing Tatum a Bone

Channing Tatum brings low-key charm and charisma to his canine-friendly film

While every other dog film manages to warm you heart, Dog guarantees you’ll be laughing your heart out while it gives you all the feels. Channing Tatum’s directorial debut, Dog, is filled with laugh-out-loud moments, but there are also incredibly endearing scenes that make this one a fun watch.

The film follows Jackson Briggs, an Army Ranger who is desperate to get back into the field after a brain injury made that impossible. His commanding officer instead gives him an assignment, which he feels is simply unnecessary but decides to get in his good books. Briggs has to drive Lulu, an Army dog who served in Afghanistan, to Arizona in his ’84 Bronco for the funeral of his old ranger buddy Riley Rodriguez (Eric Urbiztondo). Lulu will then be put down after the funeral as she’s often acting out and not safe for adoption.

This isn’t an easy road trip for either of them, as Briggs and Lulu are both undergoing their own trauma. The film follows their adventures, or rather misadventures, as they run into a pot grower (Kevin Nash) and his psychic wife (Jane Adams), or try to crash a swanky five-star hotel in a hilarious turn of events.

Tatum brings low-key charm and charisma to his canine-friendly film. It’s a bone-sized treat to see him sweet-talking his dog while they bicker and fight. But what one might least expect is the emotional core of the film. Dog dives into the psychological trauma and PTSD experienced by army rangers and their K-9 comrades. This film is also a reminder that, while Tatum has been known for his comedic range (21 Jump Street) and kick-ass action (White House Down), he is also a credible dramatic actor. It requires serious chops to share a film in which the majority of the screen time is him and his canine co-star (played by three different dogs).

Lulu also gives Dog some heart. When rangers are no longer fit for duty, they retire, but when canine rangers are no longer fit, and not safe for adoption, they are put down. It’s incredibly heartbreaking, and the film keeps this message at the core without being overly sentimental while allowing the audience to sympathize with the characters. Tatum’s comedic timing paired with the adorable Belgian Malinois is nothing short of a treat.

We also get some insight into medical books that the rangers create for their dogs and shows K-9s as complex creatures. There’s more to the creatures than we’ve seen in previous army films. What could have been a silly, one-dimensional popcorn film is instead a much deeper, sensitive ,and heartfelt journey while maintaining the “buddy comedy road trip” vibe. It’s quite the balancing act and, overall, a fun ride.

Dog opens in theaters across Canada on Friday.