A LIFE-CHANGING JOURNEY OF ACCEPTANCE

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By Nirupa Mohan Dore

The newest drama-comedy, road film, Dog, starring Channing Tatum as former US Army Ranger, Jackson Briggs, a man who must escort a Belgian Malinois military working dog, named ‘Lulu,’ to attend his fallen commander’s funeral. The moving story features a road-trip where the journey may just change their lives.

The film also stars Ethan Suplee as Noah, Jane Adams as Tamara, Kevin Nash as Gus, Luke Forbes as Jones, William Burr as a police officer, and Ronnie Gene Blevins as Keith, among others, with each adding in their own style and experience, to their respective roles. Dog is a heart-warming film, whichtakes viewers on a road trip, with Briggs and Lulu, as they make their way by road, from the Pacific Coast, starting from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington to Nogales, in Arizona. The well-scripted plot delivers straightforward drama, as the two frustrate each other, get into some trouble, break a law or two, and have a narrow escape with death, on their journey. While the core story unfolds as they learn more about each other and begin to trust one another. 

There are more layers to the story than what is initially shown, with Briggs who is recovering from a brain injury from his days of active service, struggling to come to terms with his current circumstances, where serving may not be right for him. And at the same time, he must deal with thebroken relationship he has with his family, but is uncertain what his place in life is, other than in the army. Lulu the dog is an absolute star, who is sure to be appreciated by dog lovers, she makes the film standout, as she portrays a grieving service dog who is suffering from anxiety, after the death off her handler. She is initially shown as an angry dog, who cannot be managed by anyone because she is aggressive, and is muzzled, with sedatives being used on her. Sadly, to make things worse for her, after the funeral, Lulu was to be put down.

This is a story that focuses on a man and a dog, who are both struggling in their lives, but are together on a journey, and in the crossroads, the only way they can find happiness, is if they can find a way to accept things as they are, and let down their guards, in the hope of having a chance at happiness.

We don’t often think about the serious trauma and long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the impact it has on the everyday lives, of those dealing with PTSD, and the impact it has on the lives of the families, who are around them, and even more rarely do people think about the dogs who are traumatised severely like Lulu, who after many war zone missions, have their own battles to overcome. This film takes a drama filled approach to a serious, thought-provoking subject.

The 101-minute film by the lead star Channing Tatumas co-director, together with Reid Carolin, both making their directorial debuts, produced the film together with producers Brett Rodriguez, Peter Kiernan, and Gregory Jacobs, working in collaboration with production companies Film Nation Entertainment, Free Association, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Made with a budget of US$ 15million, the film proved to be a financial success, raking in over 66.1 million at the worldwide box-office, backed by positive critic, supported by moderate to high ratings, with 75 per cent featured on Rotten Tomatoes, 60 per cent on Metacritic and 6.5/10 on IMDb.

Tatum proves to be a skilled co-director, while doubling as the lead, delivering a well-directed story, with an equally convincing performance, which shows the journey and struggles of a former soldier, who is in the process of finding his way in life.

Dog is an entertaining film with clear emotional depth, and strong dialogue, that is sure to be appreciated by those who enjoy watching the plot unfold with a smart Belgian Malinois at its centreas the title character, supported by a cast of skilled stars, in a story that delivers drama and humour.