Dog (2022)

Dog is a 2022 American comedy drama road film directed by Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin both maing their directorial debuts. The film stars Tatum as an Army Ranger who must take the dog of his fallen commander to the funeral. The film also stars Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee. Emmy Raver-Lampman and Nicole LaLiberte. 

U.S. Army Ranger jackson Briggs is commissioned with bringing Lulu, a Belgian Malinois military working dog, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington to Nogales, Arizona in time to attend her handler’s funeral. On the way, Briggs has to come to terms with his post-traumatic stress disorder as well as his trouble with making emotional connections. 

This movie is filmed mostly on the road. Tatum’s character, Jackson Briggs is at first very unlikeable, because he is a selfish, heavy drinker and tries to pick up random ladies. He leaves the dog in his truck, ususally tied up alone with no food, water or chew toys. The dog goes crazy with boredum, hunger and cabin fever and starts barking incessantly, tearing up items in the truck as well as destroying the seats. Eventually, Briggs learns how to handle Lulu and stops the negligence and abuse towards her and she becomes calmer and friendlier and even sweet to him and the two become best friends. 

Some of this film is tough to watch, as it can be offensive to dog and animal lovers, especially the way Lulu is mistreated for much of the story, also the way Briggs treats himself in the beginning by constantly drinking, trying to pick up ladies, drinking and driving and not wearing a seatbelt. But once you get past all that, the film is heartwarming and will make you tear up. This movie is so touching, it will make even a cat person cry. 

Channing Tatum is great throughout the movie, bring the humor, ugliness and love to the main character. This is definitely one, if not the best of his roles. Parts of the film are extremely offensive like I said, the animal abuse, and the scene where Briggs pretends to be a blind war veteren with his war veteran guide dog just to get a room at a fancy hotel and dinner and drinks at an expensive restaurant. The latter scene does have a very sweet part where it has Briggs with Lulu in a bathtub, giving her a bath. 

I wish this film hadn’t spent so much time on the road and more time was spent on his time in the Army with his Army dog. So much of the time that was focused on his Army time and Lulu’s handler’s time is told and shown in a scrapbook and a DVD of camera footage from Lulu’s collar camera (though we don’t get much of that). But the movie does a great job of going from making you uneasy to to warming your heart and making you believe in the power of dogs and how much impact they have on the lives of humans. 

Tatum is not an actor of a destinct range, but he knows what his viewers want and this film, he gives them more than what they expected. He has come a long way from the “Magic Mike” Tatum that made him a household name. He is doing more serious roles and trying not to become typecast like so many others. This is not a film that deserves any awards and at times it’s a bit slow, but it’s not bad or even boring despite that. 

On the surface it looks like just another road trip movie or another “Tuner & Hooch” but it’s not, though at as funny or entertaining, it’s story has layers and makes it worth watching. It makes you love dogs even more and believe in the power of love and friendship. You don’t have to be an Army supporter or dog person to enjoy this movie or get any deep emotions from it. It is a well done emotional film from beginning to end, though maybe not the best of this year so far, but likely not the worst either. I can’t say whether to watch it or skip it, this one is up to you, since I liked, but not loved it. I will say, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin did fine job on this one. 13+ 3.5/5 

Classic of the Week: Ordinary People (1980)

Ordinary People is a 1980 American drama film directed by Robert Redford, in his directorial debut. It his based on the 1976 novel of the same name by Judith Guest. It stars Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsch and Timothy Hutton. The story follows the dissolve of an upper middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois, after the accidental death of one of their two sons and the attempted suicide of the other.

Judging by the title of this film, it sounds like nothing more than just the story of an average American upper class family, but it’s so much more. It deals with love, tragedy, depression, suicide and marital issues. It is very slow for a good portion of the film, but some scenes are quite intense, especially when it shows how Jordan died and when Conrad is attempting suicide. This is a movie that many families, even today can relate to. So many families go through these things.

This film isn’t really heartwarming much at all, in fact, it is mostly heartbreaking. It is depressing, but truly moving and inspirational. It shows how a family copes with tragedy, how death has an impact on people and how suicide is never the answer. It also deals with marital problems, realizing that sometimes a person falls out f love with their spouse and that separation may the key for two people to be truly happy again. This movie also deals with mental illness, not just someone wanting to kill themselves, because of guilt, but also depression, anger issues, anxiety and insomnia.

This is a film that not just psychiatrists should watch, but anyone who has gone through any like the family portrayed in this story. At times this movie is very slow, almost boring, but it is still very good. All the main stars do equally outstanding in their roles, making it seem like their characters are real and you’re watching a biopic , rather than a fictional movie. So well done, even if some parts are very slow, it does get to the point of making you think of how you’d feel in their situation. Robert Redford did great on this one. 18 & up 4/5

Classic of the Week: The Big Chill (1983)

The Big Chill is a 1983 American drama and comedy film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilley and JoBeth Williams. The story follows a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex commits suicide. It was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Despite coming together for a funeral, the friends still manage to share, laughter, memories, tears, music, love, friendship, food and drinks, anger, happiness and sadness. They cook, they eat, drink, dance and still have a good time. Maybe they should be mourning more the loss of their friend who was like a brother to them in college. A suicide is not something to celebrate, but maybe they are celebrating the good things about Alex.

All the acting by every lead star is equally outstanding. Every single character is unique in their own ways, making this movie better with every viewing. The fantastic soundtrack features R&B, soul, pop and rock from the 1960s and 70s . This film is equal parts sad, dramatic, funny and moving. You want friends like these.

This film is about friendship, love, death, music, emotions and life. One character is recently divorced, another has never been married, but wants a baby, another talks about how much he hates his job, despite its high pay. Despite it being 15 years after their college graduation, they group had still kept in touch. A couple of characters fall in love. One female character asks her husband to have sex with the female character that wants a baby, because she doesn’t think she’ll ever get married. He does it. There is lots of drinking, conversation, a few scenes of fighting, some making out, some sex, but lots of music.

This film teaches that family and friends are important, suicide is a serious issue, and music and coming together can heal. This movie is as striking as it is comedic, without being over the top. Wonderful throughout. 18+ 4.5/5