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If he thought about it, Briggs ( Channing Tatum ) might believe that the injuries from his service as an Army Ranger have taken everything he had and everything he needed. But he does not think about it. Despite his doctor’s warnings that he has some permanent impairment, he's determined to get back into the Rangers. Service gives him structure, purpose, fellowship, and enough adrenaline to not have to think about the many things he doesn't want to think about, including how much more there is still to lose. 

Briggs needs sign-off from an officer to be readmitted to the Rangers, who call themselves “the Army's premier direct-action raid force.” He has been repeatedly turned down. Finally, an officer says he will authorize Briggs’ reinstatement if he will perform one task, delivering an Army dog to the funeral of a veteran who served with Briggs. The dog is Lulu, a sweet-faced Belgian Malinois who performed many brave rescue operations, but who now is so severely traumatized from being in a war zone that no one can go near her. She has sent three people to the emergency room and been deemed un-salvageable. Until the funeral, she is muzzled and on Prozac. After the funeral, she is scheduled to be put down. 

Briggs, who has said he would do anything to get back into the service, does not want to do this. “You’re asking me to take a dog on a plane to Arizona?” The officer responds, “I’m asking you to drive a Ranger to a funeral.” The dog is too unstable to fly; indeed, Briggs is warned not to let her near any person or animal. But if Briggs can deliver Lulu with no mistakes and no trouble, he can get the approval he needs.

Of course, there will be mistakes and there will be trouble on the road from Oregon to Arizona by way of Los Angeles. There will also be connections from the past, both in person and via an extensive, heartfelt, and very detailed notebook kept by Lulu’s Ranger handler. 

Tatum the actor responds exceptionally well to Tatum the co-director (along with co-screenwriter Reid Carolin , both directing a feature for the first time). In his previous films, Tatum has mostly relied on his natural all-American charm, a boy-we’d-like-to-have-next-door combination of confident strength and self-deprecating humor. We have seen him unhappy and under stress but almost always as a character who keeps those feelings hidden. Here we see his range, with more vulnerability than he has shown on screen before. Briggs tries his utmost to hide his struggle from everyone, including himself. But Tatum lets us see it, without consideration for movie star vanity.

Carolin and Tatum play it safe in some other choices, though, with too many sun flares and postcard-pretty shots of the beautiful western countryside and some on-the-nose song selections for the soundtrack. We do not need to hear Kenny Rogers singing “The Gambler” again; when it comes to that song, it is time to fold ‘em. One of the stops on the road trip is in Portland, and the tired jokes about too-twee Portlandia-ness and Briggs’ efforts to adapt in order to get laid wear thin fast. 

What we’re there to see is two wounded warriors, one human, one canine, heal each other, and that works well. There are some surprising detours along the way, with some characters more interesting than the crunchy Portlandians. The always-welcome Jane Adams brings her delicate sensibility to a character who could easily have been caricatured. Interactions with two other vets also benefit from thoughtful performances. 

Both Briggs and Lulu learn that the skills they relied on in the military might need to be un-learned, or at least kept in check. Lulu knocks down a man in a hotel lobby only because he is wearing Middle Eastern robes. Briggs learns that perhaps you don’t enter someone’s property the way you enter enemy territory, even if you think your dog might be there. They also learn that those skills can have some value in a civilian life, as long as Briggs and Lulu learn to think differently about what they are trying to accomplish with them.

“Dog” is uneven in tone and quality but shows promise in the way Tatum and Carolin approach the story with care and heart. It leaves us optimistic for the future ahead for the wounded warriors and for the people who told their story.

Now playing in theaters.

Nell Minow

Nell Minow is the Contributing Editor at RogerEbert.com.

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Dog movie poster

Rated PG-13 for language, thematic elements, drug content and some suggestive material.

101 minutes

Channing Tatum as Briggs

Jane Adams as Tamara

Kevin Nash as Gus

Q'orianka Kilcher as Niki

Amanda Booth as Tiffany

Aqueela Zoll as Callan

  • Channing Tatum
  • Reid Carolin
  • Brett Rodriguez

Cinematographer

  • Newton Thomas Sigel
  • Leslie Jones
  • Thomas Newman

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Charming stars can't rescue man-pup buddy flick; language.

Dog Movie Poster

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Some iffy behavior/choices, but ultimately encoura

Briggs redeems himself by movie's end, but for par

Only a few briefly shown characters are BIPOC. The

References to war and death by suicide. Briggs dea

Briggs flirts with many women at a bar and a hotel

Frequent use of "s--t" and "bulls--t," with lesser

A few glimpses of car brands, but no overt product

Briggs drinks a lot, mostly at bars and restaurant

Parents need to know that Dog is a buddy road-trip dramedy about a U.S. Army veteran named Briggs (Channing Tatum) who must transport a Belgian Malinois named Lulu -- a fellow soldier's K-9 military working dog -- to her late handler's funeral across the country. Expect a fair bit of strong language ("s--t," …

Positive Messages

Some iffy behavior/choices, but ultimately encourages compassion, empathy, perseverance. The bond between dog and human is explored at length. Idea that pets bring out the best in humans and vice versa (with patience and consistent love) is a main theme. Promotes acts of service, kindness, togetherness. Importance of mental health in military community is an underlying message.

Positive Role Models

Briggs redeems himself by movie's end, but for part of it, he's selfish and motivated only by getting a particular job, not admitting he needs help. He's not loving or patient with Lulu until he sees how she reacts to others who are better around animals. He's initially quick to anger and fairly volatile but grows into a more understanding and empathetic man.

Diverse Representations

Only a few briefly shown characters are BIPOC. The sole acknowledgment of race/ethnicity takes place when Lulu attacks a hijabi doctor, excused by the film as a byproduct of Lulu's prior deployment in Afghanistan. Briggs pretends to be a blind veteran with Lulu as his guide dog to secure a free night's stay at a hotel. The "joke" or "twist" that a character pretends to have a disability in order to trick others and/or get freebies is a longstanding Hollywood cliche that damages the credibility of real people who have real accessibility needs. In the film there are consequences, but it's played for laughs.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

References to war and death by suicide. Briggs deals with visible pain on several occasions. A person breaks a car window to let a dog out. A military-trained dog attacks a Muslim man because he looks like previous targets. The attack forces another man to push through other guests to get to his dog. For most of the movie, it's presumed that Lulu will be put to sleep. ( Spoiler alert : She is not.) Two people shove and yell at each other. One character shoots another with a tranquilizer gun and then keeps him tied up. A character wields an ax in a threatening way.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Briggs flirts with many women at a bar and a hotel. He meets two women who ask him back to their place, where they proposition him with a threesome. It doesn't go further than him taking his shirt off and embracing them both because Lulu's barking interrupts them, but it's implied that it would have been "an epic threesome." Nonsexual shirtlessness when Briggs gives Lulu a bath.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Frequent use of "s--t" and "bulls--t," with lesser uses of "a--hole," "butthole," "ass," and "bitch," as well as insults like "stupid," "idiot," "liar," "working class," and the racial slur "raghead." Briggs flips off a police officer who was rude to him and made racist comments.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

A few glimpses of car brands, but no overt product placement.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Briggs drinks a lot, mostly at bars and restaurants but also by himself. He mostly drinks beer but also straight from a liquor bottle. He stumbles upon a couple's backyard cannabis garden and later eats one of their homemade edibles (a lollipop). Briggs sedates Lulu so that she'll stop barking and go to sleep. He seems to self-medicate with alcohol without officially having a dependency.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dog is a buddy road-trip dramedy about a U.S. Army veteran named Briggs ( Channing Tatum ) who must transport a Belgian Malinois named Lulu -- a fellow soldier's K-9 military working dog -- to her late handler's funeral across the country. Expect a fair bit of strong language ("s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," etc.), as well as suggestive references and one scene that shows the early moments (consent, embracing, Briggs' shirt coming off) of a potential threesome that gets interrupted. There are allusions to a death by suicide, war, and war wounds (the main character had a traumatic brain injury). Two potentially controversial plot points to consider: Briggs pretends to be a blind veteran with a guide dog to score a free room at a hotel, and the dog, Lulu, attacks a Muslim hotel guest because of his apparel. Both incidents do have consequences, but the impersonation of a blind man is somewhat played for laughs. On the upside, it encourages compassion, empathy, and perseverance and could spark conversations about mental health in the military community, both for humans and war dogs. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Community Reviews

  • Parents say (14)
  • Kids say (26)

Based on 14 parent reviews

Misleading preview! NOT a comedy! ZERO humor!

Absolutely not for kids, what's the story.

DOG follows Jackson Briggs ( Channing Tatum ), a Montana-dwelling U.S. Army Ranger veteran who's trying to get a job with the diplomatic security corps despite a traumatic brain injury he sustained while deployed in the Middle East. Briggs requires a letter of recommendation from a superior officer to clear him for consideration. When he learns that his Army buddy Sgt. Riley Rodriguez (Eric Urbiztondo) has died unexpectedly, Briggs gets together with his old unit to celebrate Riley's life. An officer offers Briggs an opportunity to earn his recommendation: travel down the Pacific Coast with Riley's K-9 military working dog, Lulu, a skittish and energetic Belgian Malinois now retired from service, in time to make Riley's funeral service. Afterward, Briggs is supposed to deliver Lulu to be euthanized, since she's no longer fit for K-9 duty. So Briggs and Lulu make their way down to the funeral while having various adventures, big and small.

Is It Any Good?

This potential crowd-pleaser under-delivers with its too-basic script and superficial treatment of deeper themes, particularly mental health. As always, Tatum, who also co-directed the feature with Reid Carolin, looks like he's having fun, even though Briggs is in both physical and emotional pain. But that pain isn't deeply explored, and neither are the mental health crises of the military community -- an issue that's introduced, but only in an expository way in a conversation late in the film. The movie firmly focuses on Briggs' relationship with Lulu, with a host of character actors in small supporting roles. Jane Adams and Magic Mike alum Kevin Nash stand out for their performances as Northern California hippies who grow pot, make edibles, and, in her case, connect psychically with animals. And Ethan Suplee pops up in the last act as a role model for Briggs, who can't seem to get Lulu to fully trust him.

On the flip side, Q'orianka Kilcher is wholly underused as Briggs' ex and the mother of his child. It's easy to imagine there's a lot more of her on the proverbial cutting room floor, because if Tatum and Carolin weren't going to give her character any lines, they could have hired a much lesser-known actress. Instead, in an unnecessarily long scene, the script devotes lots of time to two young tantra specialists who are eager to have a threesome with Briggs. At least there are a few laughs, and it's generally pleasant to watch characters interact with a highly trained dog, even a rambunctious and volatile one like Lulu. Thomas Newman's score is upbeat, and the cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel captures the welcoming road, the cluttered SUV, and the changing landscapes that Briggs and Lulu come across as they drive down the Pacific coast. But without a consistent tone, the movie doesn't come together in a meaningful way.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the enduring popularity of dog-and-human buddy comedies. What makes them so compelling? Which ones are your favorites?

Discuss the morally iffy decisions that Briggs makes. What does he do that's questionable? Which of his actions are honorable?

How are violence and substance use depicted in the movie? Are there consequences for drinking and drug use? What impact does it have on viewers?

How do the characters demonstrate compassion and perseverance ? Why are those important character strengths ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : February 18, 2022
  • On DVD or streaming : May 10, 2022
  • Cast : Channing Tatum , Jane Adams , Kevin Nash
  • Directors : Reid Carolin , Channing Tatum
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors
  • Studio : United Artists Releasing
  • Genre : Comedy
  • Topics : Cats, Dogs, and Mice , Friendship
  • Run time : 101 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : language, thematic elements, drug content and some suggestive material
  • Last updated : July 7, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Channing Tatum in Dog (2022)

Two former Army Rangers are paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime. Briggs (Channing Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois) race down the Pacific Coast to get to a fellow sol... Read all Two former Army Rangers are paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime. Briggs (Channing Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois) race down the Pacific Coast to get to a fellow soldier's funeral on time. Two former Army Rangers are paired against their will on the road trip of a lifetime. Briggs (Channing Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois) race down the Pacific Coast to get to a fellow soldier's funeral on time.

  • Reid Carolin
  • Channing Tatum
  • Brett Rodriguez
  • Ryder McLaughlin
  • 370 User reviews
  • 118 Critic reviews
  • 61 Metascore
  • 2 wins & 1 nomination

Get Tickets Now

  • Jackson Briggs

Ryder McLaughlin

  • Deli Teenager

Aavi Haas

  • Deli Manager

Luke Forbes

  • Ranger Jones
  • Army Ranger
  • Sgt. Kiernan

Devin White

  • Fort Lewis MP
  • Squad Leader
  • Kennel Master

Luke Jones

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  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

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The Lost City

Did you know

  • Trivia When the pandemic hit, and production was halted for nine months, Tatum and the trainers got ample time to work with each dog to get them ready for the movie. The result was a powerful bonding experience and ended with three of the trainers deciding to adopt the dogs they worked with.
  • Goofs When Briggs is leaving Los Angeles, the highway sign has distances in kilometers not miles.

Jackson Briggs : That's MY unicorn!

  • Crazy credits At the very end of the credits, the standard legal statement "This motion picture is protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America"...etc. appears. The last sentence is "Our love for dogs is real".
  • Connections Featured in The Graham Norton Show: Andrew Garfield/Dawn French/Channing Tatum/Johannes Radebe/Rob Beckett/Natalie Imbruglia (2022)
  • Soundtracks How Lucky Written by John Prine Performed by Kurt Vile featuring John Prine Courtesy of Matador Records

User reviews 370

  • UniqueParticle
  • Feb 19, 2022
  • How long is Dog? Powered by Alexa
  • I can't muster watching films where a prominently featured animal dies - Does the dog die in this one?
  • February 18, 2022 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official site
  • Santa Clarita, California, USA
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
  • CAA Media Finance
  • FilmNation Entertainment
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $15,000,000 (estimated)
  • $61,778,069
  • $14,883,928
  • Feb 20, 2022
  • $84,485,461

Technical specs

  • Runtime 1 hour 41 minutes
  • Dolby Digital

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Channing Tatum in Dog (2022)

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Channing Tatum film looks like a cute canine road movie. It’s much better than that.

movie reviews for dog

Trailers for the movie “Dog” — co-directed by and starring Channing Tatum as a retired Army Ranger named Riggs who takes a former K-9 comrade to her handler’s funeral — make it look like a fun road trip. Lulu, a Belgian Malinois, is a difficult dog: she chews the car seats, grabs snacks at every opportunity.

Cute guy, cute dog, cute movie. Right?

“Dog” turns out to be a deeply thoughtful, surprisingly resonant look at trauma and what stems from it. Lulu isn’t a bad dog — she’s broken. So is Riggs. They’re both no longer Rangers because they are no longer fit for duty, thanks to that all-too-common combination of traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Lulu can no longer work and it’s not safe to adopt her out, so after Rigg’s stop at his buddy’s funeral, he plans to drop Lulu off at a military base, where she’ll be put down. Once he does, he’ll be permitted to join a private military contractor, despite his own brokenness. So the two begin their odyssey from Oregon to Arizona, making several stops along the way. Though the story can be predictable and pat at times, there’s something more, something deeper behind the plot.

Riggs’s early frustration with Lulu is understandable. She used to be well-behaved; she had a job and did it well. Now she’s scared of everything, and she doesn’t know why. Riggs keeps asking her what went wrong. (She is, unsurprisingly, unresponsive). He wants to know how she lost her way, why she seems insistent on destroying herself and her legacy, strongly implying that if Lulu just wanted it enough, she could get better. Riggs even points out that euthanasia isn’t a “warrior’s death.”

Then he goes out and gets drunk, comes home, pops pills, and wakes up to another day where his ears won’t stop ringing and he doesn’t get to do what he’s trained to do — because that nearly killed him.

(A bit of context: Many canine veterans end up being euthanized, as their training and experiences can make them hard to adopt. Soldiers, obviously, aren’t. Yet on average, at least 16 veterans take their own lives every day .)

Military suicides are increasing; Theater of War is offering more than just a show of sympathy.

The connection between Lulu’s and Riggs’s PTSD is never laid on too thickly, but it’s there. And because it’s there, it gives the audience a new way to connect to someone who’s suffering. A highly trained combat veteran with rage issues and night terrors is scary, and it’s easy to look away. A dog? It’s a little harder to turn away from Lulu’s big brown eyes, and easier to see that underneath her muzzle is a desperately sad, scared creature who is worth the effort it takes to save.

Tatum’s varied background in film serves him well here. He’s as believable as a military man as he was in “ White House Down ,” as funny and as charming as he was in the “ 21 Jump Street ” movies. What’s more, his serious turn in “ Foxcatcher ” was no fluke: He can really act. Considering we spend the vast majority of the movie with him and Lulu in his truck, that’s a relief.

He’s harder to judge as a director, since he’s working as a team here (with Reid Carolin), but there are a number of shots that are truly lovely. Even the choice of landscape works on a deeper level; as Riggs and Lulu leave the lush woods of Oregon for the arid plains of Arizona, the scenery begins to look more and more like the desert areas of Afghanistan, where Riggs and Lulu met and served together.

While “Dog” is often funny, it’s not a comedy. Though it’s often sad, it’s not a tragedy either. Instead, it’s a sensitive, engaging, realistic look at what happens when a soldier’s toughest battle starts when they come home. It’s not the movie its marketing would have you believe it is. It’s much, much better.

PG-13. At area theaters. Contains strong language, mature thematic elements, drugs and some suggestive material. 101 minutes.

movie reviews for dog

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‘Dog’ Review: Channing Tatum’s Directorial Debut Is a Sweet Road Trip About Two Wounded Soldiers

David ehrlich.

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A buddy comedy about the mutually life-altering friendship that forms between Channing Tatum and a Belgian Malinois during a wild road trip from Montana to Arizona, “ Dog ” is the kind of movie that will divide audiences into two uneven camps: Those surprised to discover that it’s actually good, and those disappointed to learn that it’s not astoundingly great. The first group, all of them fools, walks into this thing expecting to see a goofy jock take his “steroidal puppy” screen persona to its logical conclusion. The second group, having been sanctified by the divine light of masterpieces like “She’s the Man” and “Magic Mike XXL,” readies themselves for another chance to see one of the most unpretentious movie stars of his generation leverage his meathead physique into a perfect vessel for exploring the softer side of masculinity.

“Dog” vindicates both crowds to varying degrees, as this zany and satisfying tear-jerker is possibly the most Channing Tatum thing that anyone has ever made (he even co-directed it alongside his producing partner Reid Carolin ). Some aspects of the film reflect his limitations — the majority of them crystallize his charms. But even the movie’s wackiest and most juvenile digressions can’t disguise the fact that its bark is worse than its (very tender) bite, as the real power of this “Dog” is ultimately rooted in its star’s undying belief that a man is only as strong as the bond he shares with his best friend.

The bond that Briggs (Tatum) shares with his brothers-in-arms sure isn’t doing the trick anymore. A former Army Ranger forced to retire from active duty after sustaining a series of brain injuries (“The Army has no place for liabilities,” his ex-Captain says), Briggs is on his own at the start of this movie. Carolin’s script can be frustratingly broad when it comes to its empty shell of a hero, but the empty bottles scattered across the floor of his bedroom paint a clear enough picture, and it seems like he isn’t the only one who hasn’t been getting the support he needs from his fellow Rangers or the Army at large; his war buddy Rodriguez has just crashed his car into a tree at 120mph, and you wonder how many of the uniformed men who gather at his memorial had actually bothered to call the guy when he was in crisis. Then again, it’s unlikely that Rodriguez ever asked for help: He was a soldier, and soldiers are taught to wear a brave face no matter how much they’re hurting inside.

But Briggs doesn’t give a damn that the Army doesn’t want him anymore, or that going back on active duty might be the single worst thing he could do to quiet the ringing in his ears. He needs a family, and the only way he’s going to be allowed back in the circle is if he agrees to drive Rodriguez’s traumatized service dog — a former Army Ranger, herself — down to his funeral service in Arizona before leaving her at the military base where she’s due to be euthanized.

Will Briggs decide to save Lulu’s life? Will Lulu be able to save his in return? Will there be an absolutely demented scene that, impossible as it sounds, somehow manages to bridge the gap between “Scent of a Woman” and Samuel Fuller’s “White Dog”? The answer to all of those questions is obvious, but this sweet and semi-gentle movie takes great pleasure in the process of asking them in wildly ridiculous ways. While “Dog” is far more genial than laugh-out-loud funny — Carolin and Tatum maintain the loose comic tone of an old war story as they alternate between slapstick humor and sudden dashes of raw tension — it’s also very much a road trip movie at heart, and one that uses the genre as permission to put its characters in all sorts of wacky situations.

“Dog” makes time for all of the basic shtick you’d expect in a comedy about a large adult man chauffeuring his dead friend’s high-maintenance pet for more than 1,500 miles, and muttering to himself turns out to be one of Tatum’s many hidden talents. Still, the dynamic between Briggs and the four-legged passenger he cages up in the backseat of his 1984 Bronco is loaded from the start.

For starters, they served together. The last time Briggs saw Lulu — who’s played by very good girls Britta, Lana, and Zuza — she was mauling people half to death in one of the Middle Eastern countries that Briggs is so desperate to see again (he doesn’t seem to care which country it will be, or why American troops might be sent there). He knows to be a little scared of her, even if he’s forgotten how much she hates being touched behind the ears, but it will take him some time to recognize the pain behind Lulu’s eyes, or to see himself in the muzzled frown of a dog being left to die now that she’s no longer fit for combat. In fact, the first pit stop Briggs makes on the trip is at a firing range, where he pops off a few practice rounds without paying any mind to the fact that a single gunshot might be enough to trigger Lulu’s PTSD.

movie reviews for dog

Briggs’ injuries are less defined — a symptom of his denial that positions the movie around him to let the Army off the hook — but if “Dog” shares its protagonist’s ugly indifference towards the specifics of America’s wars, it isn’t shy about the soul-poisoning cost of fighting in them. While Carolin and Tatum stop short of condemning the Army outright, they come a hell of a lot closer to it than you’d expect from a movie that opens with the strong whiff of military propaganda. It’s clear that Briggs and Lulu are both sick in their own ways, and it’s telling that even the silliest of the detours along their road trip find them running into healers of one kind or another.

A stop in Portland — a city whose crunchiness the film exaggerates to such a ridiculous degree that Fox News viewers will probably take it at face value — climaxes with Lulu cock-blocking Briggs’ very special night with a pair of sexy tantric gurus. A pit stop on the way to San Francisco leads to an ambush that threatens to send the whole movie in a much darker direction, but a sequence that starts with some genuine suspense is eventually defused in the most delightful possible way (no spoilers, but Jane Adams and WWE legend/“Magic Mike XXL” icon Kevin Nash will be tough to beat as the year’s best movie couple). Later, when Briggs poses as a blind veteran in order to snag a free room at a fancy hotel, the film’s most broadly comedic episode crashes to a halt with its most uncomfortably sobering moment, as Lulu bites a doctor in a scene that confronts a fuller range of the damage that she and Briggs have brought home with them.

It’s hard to describe these seriocomic setpieces without robbing them of their “what the hell is happening right now?” fun, but let’s just say that a movie as off the leash as “Dog” would be a total disaster if not for Tatum’s ability to maintain its tail-wagging tone. He may not push himself very hard in this role (even by the end, Briggs only amounts to a rough idea of a person), but it’s always fun to see an actor who so fully understands how to wield his own appeal.

At heart, this is a film that just wants some good pats, and it’s willing to do whatever it takes to get them. That eagerness creates an occasional clash between the yucks and the tears — as you might expect from something that marries the canine hijinks of “Turner & Hooch” with the hilarity of euthanasia, PTSD, and combat veteran suicide — and it leaves Carolin and Tatum a bit off-balance when the movie finally makes its feeble bid to flesh out Briggs’ backstory. The nice stuff is a little tense, the tense stuff is a little nice, and the waterworks at the end amount to more of a leaky faucet than a busted reservoir because of the film’s unwillingness to lean too hard in any particular direction. And yet, “Dog” builds to a surprising degree of clarity on at least one point, even if it’s argued with a non-partisan softness: These two former Army Rangers are only able to Be All They Can Be because of what they become to each other.

MGM will release “Dog” in theaters on Friday, February 18.

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Review: How is Channing Tatum’s directorial debut? Playful, laidback and pretty good

Lulu the Belgian Malinois sits behind driver Channing Tatum in a car.

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The underdog is a good position for Channing Tatum. Despite being one of the most beloved himbos of Hollywood — thanks to his affable screen presence, up-for-anything attitude and obvious good looks — it still feels like we, as a population, underestimate Tatum a bit, especially as he makes his directorial debut with “Dog.”

Tatum shares the director’s chair with frequent producing partner and “Magic Mike” and “Magic Mike XXL” writer Reid Carolin, who is also making his directorial debut. Carolin and Brett Rodriguez penned the script about a former Army Ranger, Jackson Briggs (Tatum), who is tasked with delivering another veteran to the funeral of an Army buddy who has died in a car accident. The vet in question happens to be Lulu, a Purple Heart-decorated combat dog, a Belgian Malinois whose handler was Jackson’s pal Riley.

Like Jackson, she’s riddled with bullet scars, emotional triggers and the residual effects of war trauma, and she’s no longer a useful asset to the U.S. Army. Jackson agrees to drive “Dog” (as he refers to her) from Washington to Arizona in hopes of receiving a recommendation for a private security contractor gig, despite the lingering effects of his own traumatic brain injury.

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Tatum, Carolin and Rodriguez have been collaborating, and grappling with the effects of war, since Kimberly Peirce’s 2008 film “Stop-Loss,” in which Tatum co-starred, with Carolin producing and Rodriguez serving as a military consultant. The trio also produced the 2017 HBO documentary “War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend,” which makes “Dog” feel like a natural culmination for this creative partnership. The amount of time that this project has been marinating, plus the informed understanding of PTSD, brain injuries and the role of the combat dog, all help the film to effortlessly convey complex issues.

It’s a more serious register than the effervescent celebration of beefcake that is the “Magic Mike” films, but filmmakers Tatum and Carolin know what the people want, too, and place Jackson in all manner of ridiculous situations to capitalize on Tatum’s natural charisma (and abs). Yes, we want to see Tatum navigate a potential sexual encounter with two tantric healing practitioners (Emmy Raver-Lampman and Nicole LaLiberte) in Portland, Ore.; bond with a pot-farming couple (Kevin Nash and Jane Adams) against all odds; and tangle with a San Francisco cop (Bill Burr) after attempting to scam a free hotel room. And yes, we also want to see Tatum emoting in a sopping wet T-shirt — which the filmmakers happily deliver.

The road-trip high jinks add a level of absurdity to the proceedings that keeps “Dog” from ever getting too heavy or maudlin. Typically, movies about dogs are unrelenting tear-jerkers, but Tatum and Carolin resist sentimentality, resulting in a film that’s refreshingly frank and surprising when the emotional moments do hit (and do they ever).

Newton Thomas Sigel’s cinematography has a propulsive flow, lingering over the natural beauty along the way, from a snowy Montana landscape to a Big Sur sunset. Editor Leslie Jones keeps the pace moving at an easy clip, and the film is incredibly watchable, thanks to the craft on display. While some storylines could have used more care and attention, Carolin and Tatum’s directorial instincts bring a fresh approach to this type of film. It’s a pleasure to say that this is one good “Dog.”

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

'Dog'

Rating: PG-13, for language, thematic elements, drug content and some suggestive material Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes Playing: In general release Feb. 18

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‘Dog’ Review: Channing Tatum With a Dog Is as Charming as You’d Think

Tatum's first starring role in five years, and first film as director is a fun road trip film between Tatum and a dog.

Dog , the first starring role for Channing Tatum since 2017, seems as deceptively simple as its one-syllable title. Co-directed by Tatum with Reid Carolin , Dog is at its core a road trip film between Tatum’s Briggs and the Belgian Malinois named Lulu, which starts with this pair unsure about each other, and with them eventually growing to love one another, as one would expect. But despite the clear direction, Dog is a surprisingly earnest look at PTSD, finding love that can get you through the worst of times, and a reminder of how great it is to have Tatum back in a lead role.

Written by Carolin and Brett Rodriguez , Dog stars Tatum as Briggs, a former Army Ranger desperate to get back to active duty after a series of brain injuries. Even though he claims to have a clean bill of health, he wakes up to a piercing ringing in his ears, and his lack of a support system looks to be breaking his spirit as he works at a gas station sandwich shop. Even worse off than Briggs in his old Army buddy Rodriguez, who died in a high-speed car crash, likely due to severe PTSD taking its toll.

In the wake of Rodriguez’s death, Briggs finds his opportunity to return to the military. Rodriguez’s service dog Lulu, who worked alongside him in Iraq, needs to be driven from Oregon to Rodriguez’s funeral in Arizona, after which, Lulu will be taken to a military base and euthanized. If Briggs can bring Lulu to Arizona in time for the funeral, he will get the chance that he’s been waiting years for.

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Dog basically hits every note that one would expect from this type of man-meets-dog story, from the uncomfortable growing period, to the pair becoming best friends. Yet it’s the tackling of the pair’s PTSD that makes this slightly more. Briggs clearly still has issues with his time in the service, despite his interest in jumping back in, but so does Lulu. Loud noises cause Lulu to bark and freak out, and her training has made her induction into the real world difficult at times. During one scene, Lulu tackles a Muslim doctor at a hotel simply because of the way he’s dressed. As Briggs has to explain, she doesn’t mean anything by this assumption, it’s just the way that she was raised in war, as terrible as that might be.

But Briggs and Lulu also served together, and while they got along during their shared time in the military, their experiences with loss and the absence of purpose has turned them both into something completely different. For Lulu, she is reckoning with the loss of her owner, while Briggs is stuck in a dead-end job, desperate to prove himself worthy of more. Yet both have seen the terrors that war can cause, and it’s their combined efforts to rise above their shared trauma that bonds them together. Yes, Dog is very much about a dog finding his master, but it’s also a quite lovely look at how love, friendship, and openness can not only alter your perception of the world, but help one rise above the pains of the past.

Considering the road trip format of Dog , the film has Briggs and Lulu engaging in a series of various adventures together, some of which are far more successful than others. One of the better segments features Tatum’s Magic Mike co-star Kevin Nash and Jane Adams as a couple who show Briggs the softer side of Lulu. The false toughness of Nash’s exterior, matched with the more free spirit mentality of Adams makes them a joy to spend time with, even for a relatively short amount of time.

The aforementioned attack of a Muslim doctor is uncomfortable, yet Carolin and Rodriguez’s script finds a way to make it work regardless. Less effective, however, is the casting of Bill Burr as a racist cop who arrests Briggs after the attack, a sequence where Tatum pretends to be blind to get a free hotel room for Lulu, or the scenes where Briggs mostly laughs off the horror of war as an almost unavoidable experience that he willingly participated in. For the most part, Dog is fairly solid at handling the awfulness of war, yet at times like these, it gets into a strange territory that doesn’t always work.

Yet for the most part, Dog is a subtlety effective film about PTSD and dealing with the aftermath of war, tucked away into a charming buddy comedy road trip. Tatum and Carolin aren’t breaking the mold with this story, but their ability to tie deeper issues into a fairly rote concept does show promise for future projects. Dog is often fun, a welcome return for Tatum, and, a mostly appealing story of a man (and a dog) finding exactly what they need to move forward.

Dog is now playing in theaters.

Review: 'Dog' is going to hit you like a shot in the heart

Even if you suffer from canine indifference, “Dog” will make you a convert

If you're like me and find dogs irresistible then "Dog," the new Channing Tatum film now playing only in theaters, is going to hit you like a shot in the heart. Even if you suffer from canine indifference -- say it isn't so -- "Dog" has the power to make you a convert.

In his first screen role five years, the star of "Magic Mike," "21 Jump Street" and "Dear John" finds a female costar to match him step for step. She's a Belgian Malinois and she steals every scene she's in as Lulu, a PTSD-scarred Army dog who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

PHOTO: Channing Tatum stars as Briggs alongside Lulu the Belgian Malinois in the movie "Dog".

The assignment that falls to Tatum's wounded Army Ranger Jackson Briggs is to escort Lulu to the funeral of her handler, who was also Briggs' best friend. Dog-hater Briggs doesn't relish having to babysit Lulu for 1,500 miles from Fort Lewis, Washington, to Nogales, Arizona, in his beaten-up '84 Ford Bronco, but he has his reasons for taking the job.

Above all, Briggs needs to convince his commanding officer that he's equipped to redeploy after sustaining a brain injury in combat that induces seizures. Briggs and Lulu are literally the walking wounded out to prove they still have what it takes. And suddenly a comedy akin to "Turner and Hooch" develops a conscience about who we send into battle.

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Tatum co-directed "Dog" with his "Magic Mike" partner Reid Carolin, basing Carolin's fictional script on a 2017 HBO documentary, "War Dog: A Soldier's Best Friend," that they co-produced. Even when "Dog" comes perilously close to sinking into sentimental quicksand, the movie is an indisputable act of love.

At first, Briggs tries to resist Lulu, who has anger issues. She'll rip up the seats of Briggs' car at the slightest provocation and interrupt his love life if another woman gets too close. But like any buddy movie that takes to the road, man and (muzzled) dog unite over shared adventures.

PHOTO: Channing Tatum stars as Briggs alongside Lulu the Belgian Malinois in the movie "Dog".

The episodic plot is strictly standard issue with Briggs encountering a pot farmer, a racist cop, a pet psychic, two sex therapists and an anti-militarist who calls this soldier a tool of Big Oil. All the padding is unnecessary since all audiences want and need is a man and a dog.

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That they get. It took three canines to play Lulu and they all deserve award attention or at least a statue carved out of kibble. Tatum had only himself to play Briggs and he does the job with the charm, humor and unforced gravity of a true star. No wonder Lulu loves him.

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"Dog" is clearly a personal project for Tatum, who named Lulu after his own pup and clearly feels for the human and K-9 warriors who are trained to attack and kill only to be left alone to adjust to a world filled with triggers of conflict. To Lulu, thunder can sound like the bombs that once set her running. It's Briggs who finds himself hurtling toward the things that scare him.

Tatum refuses to give "Dog" a political or sermonizing agenda that might compromise its appeal as a family film with a happy ending. As Briggs and Lulu watch a sunset together and form a healing link, you just might want to stand up and cheer. It had me at first bark.

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movie reviews for dog

  • DVD & Streaming

Content Caution

movie reviews for dog

In Theaters

  • February 18, 2022
  • Channing Tatum as Briggs; Kevin Nash as Gus; Jane Adams as Tamara

Home Release Date

  • May 10, 2022
  • Reid Carolin, Channing Tatum

Distributor

  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Movie Review

They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. And friends would do anything for each other.

Lulu’s not so sure anymore. In fact, she’s pretty much done with humans. And her new, would-be human handler, Briggs, seems like more of a cat person anyway.  

The two know each other pretty well already. And both would’ve counted Lulu’s original handler, Sgt. Riley Rodriguez, as one of their best friends, to be sure. Briggs and Rodriguez were Army Rangers, and Lulu served faithfully with their unit—tour after tour, fight after fight, belly rub after belly rub.

But with years of service come years of scars. All three had their share: Briggs and Lulu suffered their own forms of head trauma. And Rodriguez? Well, he eventually ran his vehicle straight into a tree.

Briggs’ concussions make him a liability these days, he’s told. He’s been sidelined for a while now. But being a Ranger is all he knows and all he loves. He’s applied to work diplomatic security, and he feels like he’s ready. His commanding officer’s not so sure. But finally, the captain relents—a little. He decides to give Briggs a chance to prove himself. But it’s a dog of a job.  

Lulu’s locked in a cage at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, prone to attack anyone who comes close. “One minute she’s fine, the next she’s sending two guys to the ER,” one of Lulu’s temporary keepers says. Rodriguez’s funeral is being held in Arizona in five days’ time. His family wants Lulu there at the ceremony: Rodriguez and Lulu were inseparable, after all. But the beast refuses to fly. And who’s going to argue with a Belgian Malinois with Ranger training?

So to get Lulu to the funeral on time means a road trip. And Briggs, maybe, is just the Ranger to chauffer the pooch to Arizona.

“You stick your neck out for the battalion, I’ll stick my neck out for you,” the captain tells Briggs.

But spending five days with a big, crazy, potentially lethal dog won’t be easy. And even if Briggs and Lulu make it to Arizona alive, who’s to say that Lulu might not eat everybody at the funeral? No question, this is a ruff job.

Positive Elements

Though Dog is a technically comedy, it deals with a very serious, very important issue: mental health in the military. Seeking help for mental and/or emotional problems has historically been stigmatized in the armed forces, and I’d imagine that’d be especially true in the Army’s elite Rangers regiment. It’s certainly true of Briggs.

Though Briggs’ brain has been knocked out of joint via concussion(s), he’s desperate to return to duty. So he tries to push through and minimize or hide the lingering side effects to prove he’s ready—even though he’s not. “You don’t see some little seizure stopping me , do you?” he says at one point.

Lulu, too, is suffering. Locked in a kennel before the road trip, she’s missing her work as much as Briggs misses his.

As such, Dog is really about both of these soldiers finding a way forward—and a way toward healing. That healing, naturally, requires a level of trust and support, elements that typically require more than five days to develop. But through this concentrated road trip (and the magic of moviemaking), that trust does grow. And Briggs comes to understand that finding personal meaning might be possible after his life with the Army. And wherever that life leads him, he doesn’t have to go it alone.

“We’re trained to carry the whole world on your back,” a fellow (albeit retired) soldier tells him. “But sometimes, the hardest thing is just knocking on your friend’s door.”

That’s a good word.

Spiritual Elements

That retired soldier, we discover, is a man of faith—and he suggests that his faith helped save him from his own descent into darkness. He tells Briggs that it’s important to talk about his experiences: “To other guys who’d gone through it or maybe just to God.” He backtracks a bit, saying that it’s the talking that matters—not the hope of divine intervention. He says that for some, God could be anything: “Could be a rock, could be a shoe, could be his d–n barber.” But for this man, God is more than a shoe. And as Briggs leaves his house, the man says, “I’ll be praying for you guys.”

But Briggs encounters other forms of spirituality, too. He encounters two women who tell him that they’re Tantric coaches (they use sex for spiritual enlightenment) and talk about chakras (energy points in the body). All of that is related to Hinduism, Buddhism and other forms of Eastern spirituality, and Briggs exclaims “oh my Buddha!” as he (ahem) engages with the women.

Briggs and Lulu also run into a woman who claims that she’s psychic and can read animals’ minds. The woman, Tamara, tells Briggs that Lulu and he are “karmically connected,” and believes that Lulu may have been a reincarnated soul originally from ancient Egypt. Tamara also tells Briggs that Lulu really wants to sleep in a nice, soft bed for once in her life. And while Tamara’s husband tells Briggs that Tamara “bats about .350 on those” predictions, Briggs does go out of his way to give Lulu what she supposedly wants.

As a military dog trained for work in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lulu’s been trained to attack people who dress in typically Islamic garb. That training, unfortunately, comes into play in the lobby of a posh San Francisco hotel.

We see a Christian funeral. We hear some talk about Mother Earth and Valhalla (the Viking version of heaven), and a book full of tips for how to deal with Lulu is called a “bible.” Briggs calls Lulu a “demon” once. A couple of commandments are quoted.

Sexual Content

Briggs seeks out female companionship just as the road trip gets underway. He strikes out repeatedly at a local bar, but the “tantric coaches” mentioned above seem to take an interest in him. They take him back to their place, where they embrace him from both sides and request permission to take off his shirt. (He gives it.) But before Briggs can take off either of the other two women’s shirts, the encounter is cut short.

Briggs flirts with a hotel employee, too. We see him shirtless and in his underwear on occasion, and he takes a bath with Lulu. (“You’re definitely not the girl I thought I’d be in the tub with, but hey,” he quips as he scrubs her fur.) We learn that Briggs has a daughter, whom he tries to visit. There’s a reference to vaginas.

Violent Content

Lulu has “every trigger in the book,” and we see plenty of those triggers play out. While muzzled, she lunges and attacks people (including Briggs), and she grabs hold of a couple of mal-doers when she’s unmuzzled, too. Briggs learns that she really missed putting all her military training to work: For Lulu, performing the tasks that she was taught to perform relieves stress, and Briggs and Lulu eventually participate in some violent training exercises (where Briggs dons pads and Lulu essentially attacks him). The two have a more serious showdown, too, but one that ends peacefully.

Lulu destroys plenty of personal property as well, including the front seat of Briggs’ Ford Bronco. And she likely eats a chicken or two. In a notebook chronicling Lulu and Rodriguez’s military service (which Rodriguez filled with pictures and poems as part of his therapy), we see photos of Lulu in action and drawings of her in a sometimes-bloodied frenzy. She’s now considered a “liability,” and once she attends Rodriguez’s funeral, Briggs has been asked to take her to another base where they’ll euthanize her.

Being a Ranger, Briggs is pretty dangerous in his own right. And when the two are captured, the soldier escapes and nearly kills their captors with an ax. (“I’m so happy we didn’t have to kill those nice people,” he tells Lulu.)

We’re told that Rangers “find a way to die,” and it’s suggested that Rodriguez found his way by driving into a tree. Briggs tells Lulu a death fantasy of his own: “Fly a prop plane [toward] the sun ’til the engine froze.” The two tantric coaches examine the scars on his torso, asking where they came from. (One, Briggs tells them, was caused by a bullet from an AK-47.) He has a few seizures that cause him to collapse.

Crude or Profane Language

About 25 s-words and a kennel’s-worth of other profanities, including “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “h—” and “p-ss.” God’s name is misused twice, and Jesus’ name is abused three times. Briggs thanks Army MPs for their service before flipping them the bird.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Briggs and Lulu encounter a pair of illegal marijuana farmers. One shoots Briggs with a tranquilizer dart (which knocks him out cold for a bit). Later, Briggs and his assailant suck on a couple of marijuana-laced lollipops.

The movie suggests that pain management is a significant issue for Rangers, and one of them says that he used to take three Percocets just to get out of bed in the morning. “That’s just the breakfast of champions,” Briggs says, adding, “and [Rodriguez] was a champion.”

Briggs takes medication, too—and he speculates that someone took his “migrane meds” and snorted them. He gives Lulu allergy medication to put the dog to sleep. He and a number of other Rangers commemorate Rodriguez by getting drunk at a bar. (One man needs to be literally dragged out of the establishment.) He drinks with a number of women at a singles bar, and he and another soldier quaff beers at the soldier’s house. He sits on top his SUV and drinks Jim Beam, too.

Briggs is currently working at a sandwich shop, and when he puts the wrong ingredient on a sandwich, the customer derisively asks, “Are you high?” A liquor bottle often sits right by Briggs’ bedside.

Other Negative Elements

Briggs pretends to be blind to get a complimentary hotel room for himself and Lulu. (When the plot goes awry, he pretends that his sudden sight is a miracle.) He talks about how dogs usually greet each other … by sniffing each other’s anuses.

When Riley Rodriguez was alive and serving as Lulu’s handler, he compiled a binder filled with thoughts and memories of he and Lulu’s time together: drawings. Photos. Even poems to his closest partner in the Army. His best friend.

Briggs at first scoffs at the binder’s contents, chalking it up to (what he considers) worthless counseling exercises and “art therapy bulls—.” But late one stormy night, he reads it in earnest. And he sees where Rodriguez wrote to Lulu after she’d suffered her most serious injury and they took her away from him.

“That’s when it hit me,” Rodriguez wrote. “I was never your handler. You were actually mine.”

For lots of people, that’s true. Dogs can be more than servants, more than pets. They can be confidantes, friends, critical pillars of support. Studies show that owning pets can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. And I’d imagine that in a military environment, where a soldier’s and dog’s life are inextricably linked, that connection can be exponentially greater. It says something about that depth of attachment that Channing Tatum, who directs and stars in Dog , had a dog of his own named Lulu.

Dog , in its own humorous way, gets that connection. It’s a serious movie that makes you laugh. It suggests that we don’t just teach dogs something: They can teach us some important lessons, too.

If only the movie learned a little more from Lulu.

Lulu doesn’t swear. The characters in this movie curse a lot. Lulu doesn’t drink alcohol or knowingly take drugs. Briggs and his cohorts do some of both. Lulu’s eventual love for her humans is pure and, naturally, platonic. And when it comes to sex, Briggs feels more animalistic than his noble canine companion.

As such, the movie feels a little like Briggs’ and Lulu’s road trip itself: It ultimately reaches a positive place. But the road to that place is filled with plenty of potholes.

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Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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Dog movie review: Channing Tatum shines in a wild ride of emotions

By ricky valero | feb 17, 2022.

DOG_10803_RCChanning Tatum stars as Briggs and Lulu the Belgian Malinois inDOGA Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures filmPhoto credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SMPSP© 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved

We have a few new options dropping in theaters this weekend and one of them is the Channing Tatum-led Dog . I saw the movie at an early screening and will share my thoughts on whether or not you should check it out this weekend.

I’ll be honest. I had ZERO interest in seeing this movie. I don’t watch trailers, so when I went to see Jackass Forever a few weeks back, I saw the trailer for the first time. I said to myself, that looks like it will be terrible. I love Channing Tatum, but this looked like an extremely ruff (couldn’t resist) and cheesy film. Today I can report I was wrong.

We often see the time a soldier spends in a war or deployed, but not what happens to these men and women after they leave. Sadly, many come back damaged and they don’t seek the help they need to find a healthy balance in their everyday lives. Briggs (Tatum) is struggling to find his groove in life and he has the chance to get this high-paying job but needs a letter of recommendation. His time in the military didn’t end well, so he struggles to find anyone willing to put their name on the line for him. Finally, Briggs former commander Luke Forbes decides that he will make the call for him if Briggs can get Lulu, soldier’s dog, to her handler’s funeral on time.

"“We train to put the whole world on our back but the hardest thing to do is knock on a friends door.”"

Dog is a wild ride of emotions and has a banger soundtrack

What paid off massively was the writing of not just the struggles that Briggs was facing post-deployment, but the battle of Lulu and how she is trying to adapt, not just post-deployment but life without her trainer. Writer Reid Carolin does a great job balancing both of these characters to show them overcome their internal battles to adapt.

Channing Tatum continues to show he has found his niche in the world of film. Tatum has the good looks and the charm, but he is also one of the funniest actors working. People don’t realize how funny Tatum can be until you see him steal the show. When you spend an hour and thirty minutes acting next to a dog, it can’t be easy, but when you spend that time delivering lines that make you laugh, cry, and laugh again, it shows how good he can be. We see him grow into the actor he can become in each film and I’m not sure we have seen him any better.

The other thing that works in the film is the miscellaneous pieces. From Kevin Nash almost having me in tears laughing to Bill Burr stealing the show in his five minutes of screen time to the banger of a soundtrack that I hope they release, all the pieces came together rather nicely.

The film is a wild ride of emotions that has you riding this high and out of nowhere, they like to punch you in the gut, so I would suggest being prepared to have the tissues handy when seeing the film. The second consecutive week ( Marry Me ), a film, has blown me away, with it being much better than I expected. Go see this movie this weekend.

Dog hits theaters on Feb. 18, 2022.

Next. 7 movies to watch (and 3 to skip) in February 2022. dark

Dog

18 Feb 2022

Dog isn’t the movie you think it is. From its poster and tagline (“A filthy animal unfit for human company and a… Dog ”), the joint directorial debut of Channing Tatum and long-term producing partner Reid Carolin appears to be a misadventures-with-a-mutt movie, full of shaggy shenanigans and heart, of the type that has been a mainstay of cinema since movies began. While Dog certainly borrows licks from the sub-genre’s playbook — a wet hound shaking water all over a posh hotel bed; two broken souls who heal each other — it shoots for a more interesting take, encompassing a portrait of a disenfranchised middle America and a more nuanced commentary on the life of post-war vets. The result is a mixed bag, held together by Tatum’s easy-going charisma.

Dog

Based on a road trip taken by Tatum to California’s Big Sur with his dog — also named Lulu — shortly before she died from cancer, Dog is essentially Rain Man , with Dustin Hoffman replaced by a pooch. Tatum’s former army ranger Jackson Briggs is itching to get back to battle — he has a ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ ring tone — but is stuck messing up orders in a sandwich shop, estranged from his wife Niki (Q'orianka Kilcher) and kid, all marinated in dark nights of the soul fuelled by booze and pills. Lulu is a military dog triggered by any sign of combat, who relaxes watching videos of her greatest maulings but also has the comic timing to scupper “the most epic threesome ever”.

Unusually for a film about man’s connection to animals, it’s the man who steals the show.

The episodic 1,500-mile road trip becomes a peg on which to hang a series of vignettes as Briggs attempts to deliver Lulu to the funeral of her former owner. As such, it’s a meandering tale that relies too heavily on Briggs’ monologuing to his canine charge, but Carolin and Brett Rodriguez’s screenplay finds some character quirks (Kevin Nash’s violent conscientious objector, Jane Adams’ cat psychic) and enjoyable set-pieces (Lulu uses her sniffer skills to track down Briggs’ stolen belongings) to keep it engaging. Sometimes this means there are some bumps in tone: a sequence where Briggs pretends to be blind while using Lulu as a guide dog belongs to a different, inferior movie. To Tatum and Carolin’s credit, it is never mawkish, but it is never gut-wrenching either. The screenplay also never tellingly joins the dots tracing Briggs’ emotional growth. It’s easier to chart the dog’s interior journey than the human’s.

Lulu is by turns Adam Driver intense and Joe Pesci volatile, with the occasional touch of sly Owen Wilson laid-back-ness — her refusal to get into a bath is charm personified. But, unusually for a film about man’s connection to animals, it’s the man who steals the show. Tatum’s unique blend of old-school magnetism and modern sensitivities keeps your attention, despite the thinness of the material, the actor as happy swanning around in a floral dressing gown or lip-synching ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ as he is with the macho military stuff. Fronting a film for the first time since 2017’s Logan Lucky , Tatum gives an old dog new tricks.

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Movie Review: Dog

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While the film Dog could be mistaken as another examination of the ravages of war, it proves itself to be a far more rewarding experience thanks in large part to an earnest performance from Channing Tatum, as well as one from his canine costar.  

"Dog" poster

Essentially a “buddy” picture that follows two former Army Rangers – Briggs (Tatum) and Lulu (a Belgian Malinois dog) – as they make their way down the Pacific Coast to attend their fellow soldier’s funeral. As is the custom in this type of film, the pair initially drive each completely crazy and Briggs’s suspect motives for taking on the assignment make the two soldiers seem less than friends and more like adversaries until they each lower their emotional barriers and try to actually connect in a meaningful way with one another.  

Although the film begins as a sort of mismatched pairing comical turn with Lulu not listening to Briggs or Briggs growing increasingly frustrated by her disobedience, it quickly develops into a tale of two soldiers helping each recover from the ravages of war and finding a sort of peace with each other. After Briggs and Lulu visit Tamara (Jane Adams) and her husband (Ethan Suplee) they are connected on a deeper level than before and their reliance on one another grows more acute. Before long, it is obvious that both are helping the other overcome the traumas of their individual pasts by making amends with those still with them.  

Channing Tatum in Dog

Channing Tatum in “Dog.” © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Inc.

Making his directorial debut alongside Channing Tatum is Reid Carolin – who penned the scripts for previous Tatum-starring films Magic Mike (2012) and Magic Mike XXL (2015). (The two also share an executive producer credit on the precursor to Dog , the 2017 documentary War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend .) The pair do a remarkable job of keeping the narrative moving at a brisk and somewhat relentless pace. The script, written by Carolin and Brett Rodriguez, does not feature any of the requisite downtime that usually accompanies a film of this sort wherein the audience is asked to contemplate the situation along with the characters; nor does it rely on any of the heavy-handedness that one might expect from such melodramatic fare.  

In addition to his co-directing credit, Tatum also manages to hold his own opposite the scene-stealing Lulu. There is an obvious connection between the two characters that, despite being different species, manages to resonate as an honest bond between individuals. Throughout their travels, the pair are accompanied by a score by Thomas Newman that augments the stunning vistas and assorted scenery captured by the cinematography of Newton Thomas Sigel.  

To its credit, Dog , refrains from delivering an overly melodramatic treatise on the horrors of war and instead focuses on the relationship between the film’s human and canine main characters as they inevitably find peace and comfort in one another’s company.

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‘IF’ Review: Invisible Friends, but Real Celebrity Cameos

The film is a slim story about a girl named Bea (Cailey Fleming) who helps a crank named Cal (Ryan Reynolds) play matchmaker. Oh, and Bradley Cooper is a glass of ice water.

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A man in suspenders, sitting at a desk, talks to a girl with crossed arms who looks at him with determination.

By Amy Nicholson

The big “IF” — as in “imaginary friend” — in John Krasinski’s treacly kids dramedy is a grizzly-sized purple goon who goes by the name Blue. The boy who conjured him was colorblind, he explains. Blue (voiced by Steve Carell) is one of dozens of dreamed-up creatures in Brooklyn who long for their now-grown BFFs to remember they exist.

At the Memory Lane Retirement Community underneath Coney Island, there’s also a pink alligator (Maya Rudolph), a superhero dog (Sam Rockwell), a worn teddy (Louis Gossett Jr.), a retro cartoon butterfly (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a robot (Jon Stewart), an astronaut (George Clooney), a glass of ice water (Bradley Cooper), a gummy bear (Amy Schumer), a unicorn (Emily Blunt), a flower (Matt Damon), a cat in an octopus costume (Blake Lively), a ghost (Matthew Rhys), a soap bubble (Awkwafina), some green slime (Keegan-Michael Key), and an invisible blob who the credits claim is none other than Brad Pitt.

What’s more impressive: Krasinski’s imagination or the very real friends in his Rolodex?

Most of these characters merely stroll through the frame to say hello, or whine to each other in group therapy. Yet these celebrity cameos take up about as much space as the plot, a gentle, slim story about an unflappable 12-year-old girl named Bea (Cailey Fleming) who helps a crank named Cal (Ryan Reynolds) play matchmaker for the lonely IFs.

If — and this is a rhetorical if — you’re still traumatized by the last shot of Bing Bong, the forgotten imaginary friend in Pixar’s “Inside Out,” breathe easy. There’s no existential threat (or narrative tension) about what might happen if the goofy gang remains consigned to oblivion. Palling about with kids again just sounds nice.

Bea, a solemn preteen with stick-straight hair, is the only child able to see all of the IFs, which is hard to reconcile with the fact that she also seems like the oldest little girl in the world; Reynolds, her foil, is regularly cast as the world’s most immature man, although here he’s been dialed down to a benevolent grouch. With her mother dead, her father (Krasinski) in the hospital, and her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) distracted watching Jimmy Stewart’s “Harvey” on TV, Bea is free to roam the streets of New York — which, to the fellow kids in the audience, might be as extraordinary as all of the shots of her strolling slowly through bedazzled fantasies. (The standout, odd as it sounds, is a musical number set to Tina Turner’s “Better Be Good to Me,” that’s wholly divorced from its erotic context.)

Any child over 5 will predict the Keyser Söze twist in Bea and Cal’s relationship. But this is a film that spells out its intentions for an audience still learning its ABCs, a film where Michael Giacchino’s misty violins never stop insisting how to feel, where Krasinski’s goofy dad literally wears a heart on his chest.

Krasinski has the worthy goal of making a children’s movie with an air of prestige — like his characters, he’s striving to be remembered long past opening weekend — and so the cinematographer Janusz Kaminski obligingly fills the screen with handsome images of spiral staircases and leather-bound books. Still, only two scenes accomplish the transcendence Krasinski is after, and both involve the simplest of all special effects: a shot of an adult human being that asks us to use our own imaginations to see the child inside.

IF Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes. In theaters.

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'If' movie review: Ryan Reynolds' imaginary friend fantasy might go over your kids' heads

movie reviews for dog

Even with likable youngsters, a vast array of cartoonish characters, various pratfalls and shenanigans, and Ryan Reynolds in non- Deadpool mode, the family comedy “IF” isn’t really a "kids movie" – at least not in a conventional sense.

There’s a refreshing whiff of whimsy and playful originality to writer/director John Krasinski’s big-hearted fantasy (★★½ out of four; rated PG; in theaters Friday), which centers on a young girl who discovers a secret world of imaginary friends (aka IFs). What it can’t find is the common thread of universal appeal. Yeah, children are geared to like any movie with a cheery unicorn, superhero dog, flaming marshmallow with melting eye and assorted furry monsters. But “IF” features heady themes of parental loss and reconnecting with one’s youth, plus boasts a showstopping dance set to Tina Turner, and that all leans fairly adult. Mash those together and the result is akin to a live-action Pixar movie without the nuanced execution.

Twelve-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) doesn’t really think of herself as a kid anymore. Her mom died of a terminal illness and now her dad (Krasinski) is going into the hospital for surgery to fix his “broken heart,” so she’s staying with her grandma (Fiona Shaw) in New York City.

When poking around her new environment, Bea learns she has the ability to see imaginary friends. And she’s not the only one: Bea meets charmingly crusty upstairs neighbor Cal (Reynolds) as well as his IF pals, like spritely Blossom (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and overly sensitive purple furry monster named Blue (Steve Carell). They run a sort of matchmaking agency to connect forgotten IFs whose kids have outgrown them with new children in need of their companionship, and Bea volunteers to help out.

'Welcome to Wrexham': Ryan Reynolds talks triumph, joy and loss of new season

Need a break? Play the USA TODAY Daily Crossword Puzzle.

Bea is introduced to an IF retirement community located under a Coney Island carousel with a bevy of oddball personalities in the very kid-friendly middle section of the movie. “IF” low-key has the most starry supporting cast of any movie this summer because of all the A-listers voicing imaginary friends, an impressive list that includes Emily Blunt and Sam Rockwell as the aforementioned unicorn and superdog, Matt Damon as a helpful sunflower, George Clooney as a spaceman, Amy Schumer as a gummy bear and Bradley Cooper as an ice cube in a glass. (It's no talking raccoon, but it works.)

One of the movie's most poignant roles is a wise bear played by Louis Gossett Jr. in one of his final roles. Rather than just being a cameo, he’s nicely central to a key emotional scene.

While the best family flicks win over kids of all ages, “IF” is a film for grown-ups in PG dressing. The movie is amusing but safe in its humor, the overt earnestness overshadows some great bits of subversive silliness, and the thoughtful larger narrative, which reveals itself by the end to be much more than a story about a girl befriending a bunch of make-believe misfits, will go over some little ones’ heads. Tweens and teens, though, will likely engage with or feel seen by Bea’s character arc, struggling to move into a new phase of life while being tied to her younger years – not to mention worrying about her dad, who tries to make light of his medical situation for Bea.

Reynolds does his part enchanting all ages in this tale of two movies: He’s always got that irascible “fun uncle” vibe for kids, and he strikes a fun chemistry opposite Fleming that belies the serious stuff “IF” digs into frequently. But unless your child is into old movies, they probably won’t get why “Harvey” is playing in the background in a scene. And when “IF” reaches its cathartic finale, some kiddos might be wondering why their parents are sniffling and tearing up – if they're still paying attention and not off playing with their own imaginary friend by then.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Everything Puppies’ on Hallmark, A Romance That Combines Love, Puppies, And Corporate Villainy Into One Weirdly Pleasing Movie

  • Hallmark Channel

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Family Practice Mysteries: Coming Home’ on Hallmark Mystery, A Solid Murder Procedural That’s Darker Than Most Hallmark Fare

Stream it or skip it: ‘a whitewater romance’ on the hallmark channel, a fish-out-of-rapids romance about colleagues who fall in love on a rafting trip, stream it or skip it: ‘a lifelong love’ on hallmark, starring andrea brooks as a poet forced to write an overly complicated book about love.

From the title alone, Everything Puppies on the Hallmark Channel is intriguing enough. Like, as if Hallmark Movies couldn’t be anymore comforting and soothing, we get to throw a dozen puppies in to boot? It’s not a terrible formula. And while there are lots of cute pups to go around, the real story of the film is one woman’s desire to sell her dog treats. Along the way, there’s romance, jealousy, and corporate sabotage, but in the end, goodness and puppies win the day.

EVERYTHING PUPPIES : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: Puppies! All the cute puppies, so many of them, just frolicking around a field being adorable.

The Gist: Scarlett Townsend (Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes) is a pet Renaissance woman. I mean, she’s literally referred to in the film as the Leonardo Da Vinci of the pet world, because she designs dog parks, invents pet toys, helps her dad run a dog breeding business – which, I mean, yeah, it’s essentially a puppy mill but we need to look past that for the sake of the movie – and she has developed the recipe for a dog treat that she is desperate to sell in pet stores.

Scarlett’s best friend and partner Gina (Kathryn Davis) is helping her market her dog treats, called Pup’s Palate, to pet stores, and after being routinely rejected by almost all of them, one pet store called Paws & Wellness decides to take a chance on the new brand. To be more specific, the manager of Paws & Wellness, Alex (Stephen Huszar) takes a chance on the brand after he gives a sample of the treats to his own dog, who gobbles it up.

Alex and Scarlett hit it off immediately, thanks to their love of pets and a mutual passion for weird, exciting hobbies. (He rock climbs, which is not so weird. She once rode a unicycle across Illinois, which is more weird.) Alex is really dedicated to that elusive concept known as the work-life balance, while Scarlett loves working and rarely stops, even when she’s out with him. That’s the first obstacle to their relationship.

The second obstacle is Michelle (Victoria Maria), Alex’s ex who also happens to be the regional manager of Paws & Wellness’s corporate office. (She also really doesn’t want to be his ex, insisting on dates against Alex’s will.) At first, it seems like Michelle might be a romantic competitor for Alex’s affection, but she’s actually just a corporate yes-woman, and when Pups Palate’s biggest competitor, Pup Chuck (rhymes with upchuck) threatens legal action if Paws & Wellness stocks Pups Palate on the shelves, she blocks Scarlett’s product from being sold at her store.

Scarlett’s ethos of success at all costs kicks in and she does whatever she can to get Pups Palate noticed, going up against Michelle and the comically villainous head of sales at Pup Chuck, Paul Frasca (Darrin Baker), a man whose middle name is BOTTOM LINE and who will sabotage and skip on quality if it means profits. Ultimately, because she’s a go-getter with a heart of gold, Scarlett succeeds in getting her product in stores, while winning over Alex in the end.

What Movies Will It Remind You Of? The movie is essentially what happens if the Puppy Bowl combined with a corporate-brand biopic like Air or Flamin’ Hot (where the brand is entirely fictional) by way of Hallmark and it’s feel-good comfort vibes.

Our Take: My kids had a beloved board book when they were toddlers called Little Puppy that’s just a bunch of drawings of very cute puppies scampering around with their mama dog and doing adorable stuff, and it feels like Everything Puppies is what happened if a screenwriter was like, “I know, I’ll write a movie about these dogs’ owners!”

Everything Puppies is a quintessential Hallmark movie in that it packs in all the good-hearted optimism and non-threatening romantic drama we’re used to — but then it throws in an unexpected twist in the form of a cartoonishly mean corporate rival who provides actual laughs thanks to his insatiable greed that threatens to disrupt everyone’s happy ending. While it is by no means a great film, I admit that I was waiting anxiously for the payoff at the end, which included not just Scarlett’s triumphant success, but also the arrival of a new litter of puppies born at Scarlett’s dad’s puppy breeding business. If I had to make one complaint about the film, it’s that we actually don’t see enough puppies.

Parting Shot : Six months later…Scarlett and her fiance Alex pack up his truck to head out on a camping trip. Because, you know, work-life balance. As they sit by the fire, they toast to one another as their dogs, who are perched inside a tent of their own, look on.

Performance Worth Watching: Darrin Baker stars as Paul Frasca, the shrewd, lawsuit-threatening head of sales at Pup Chuck. He has but a few scenes and yet he really makes the most of them.

Memorable Dialogue: “We’ve gotta ask ourselves, what’s more important, a healthy profit line or a healthy puppy?” the CEO of Paws & Wellness says after hearing the competing pitches from Pups Palate and Pup Chuck who both wand shelf space in his store. It is so corny, and I love it.

Our Call: STREAM IT! SO much of this movie is ridiculous, almost a parody of all the genres, from the predictable corporate villain to the predictable romantic obstacles, and yet it’s still pretty charming. That’s mostly due to the fact that this is a story of David triumphing over Goliath more than it’s a romance, and even in a fictional movie, it’s a thrill to see the little guy win. But also… PUPPIES!

Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her biggest claim to fame is the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction .

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Rumours

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The film’s marquee attraction, of course, is Cate Blanchett , impishly funny as the summit’s po-faced hostess Hilda Ortmann: a German chancellor with roughly the same hairdo and taste in tailored blazers as Angela Merkel, but little of the gravitas. It’s Germany’s turn to welcome the leaders of the six other G7 democracies — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Japan and, repeatedly mentioned with self-mocking incredulity, Canada — for a weekend of wining, dining and superficial political discussion at a luxuriously sequestered country estate where they won’t even have to lay eyes on any of the common people whose best interests they’re allegedly representing. A gazebo has been specially built for the occasion. What can go wrong?

For the purposes of a rather distasteful photo op, the German contingent has exhumed an Iron Age corpse (eerily preserved in fleshy, moist condition) from the rolling grounds, but this one archaeological gesture appears to have triggered an uprising of fluid-seeping ancient bodies, chasing the politicians into the surrounding forest when their servants mysteriously vanish. Within minutes, a low-stakes gathering of the world’s most protected people becomes a perilous survival quest as a thickevening fog encloses them, and the film’s visual language turns to that of baleful horror. Stefan Ciupek’s cinematography succumbs to exaggerated bursts of flame and haze, while the tense zitherings of Kristian Eidnes Andersen’s melodramatic score are wittily disproportionate to our emotional investment in proceedings.

Not that the shadow of death stops this less-than-magnificent seven from fretting over more trivial matters. Canada’s buff, manbun-sporting prime minister Maxime Laplace (Roy Dupuis) edges toward a nervous breakdown over a numbingly dull “carried interest scandal” at home, not to mention an extinguished romantic liaison with his U.K. counterpart Cardosa Dewindt (Nikki Amuka-Bird), who keeps insisting they can complete their statement while they claw their way out of the woods. French president Sylvain Broulez (Denis Ménochet) is more preoccupied with writing a “psychogeography of graveyards and burial customs,” Italy’s gormless premier Antonio Lamorte (a pricelessly addled Rolando Ravello) forgot to bring his phone, while venerable POTUS Edison Wolcott (Charles Dance) can’t seem to stay awake — or explain why he speaks with a cut-glass English accent.

Wolcott’s unaccountable Britishness is one of numerous blithely absurd running jokes that Evan Johnson ‘s hyper-quotable script (from a story by all three directors) effortlessly maintains while building to a bigger satirical picture. The massed foibles and outright idiocies of the seven principals — all sharp individual comic creations, but collectively a devastating hot-air hydra of enfeebled contemporary democracy — add up to a frustrated protest against our elected elite fiddling while Rome (or the planet, rather) burns, offering mealy-mouthed sentiments that gesture toward coordinated action without ever getting there.

Though you can see flickers of real-world caricature in the ensemble (a bit of Joe Biden here, a dash of Emmanuel Macron there), that’s not exactly the point of the exercise. Our interchangeably ineffectual leaders could be wiped out overnight, “Rumours” points out, as our laughter turns to a groaning sigh — it’s broken global power structures that remain immovable.

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Out of Competition), May 18, 2024. Running time: 109 MIN.

  • Production: (Canada-Germany) A Bleecker Street Media, Elevation Pictures, Plaion Pictures presentation of a Buffalo Gal Pictures, Thin Stuff Prods., Walking Down Broadway, Maze Pictures production in association with Square Peg, Laokoon Filmgroup, Ludascripts, Aloe Entertainment. (World sales: Protagonist Pictures, London.) Producers: Liz Jarvis, Philipp Kreuzer, Lars Knudsen, Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson. Executive producers: Ari Aster, Cate Blanchett, Phyllis Laing, Jorg Schulze, Joe Neurauter, Devan Towers, Tyler Campellone, Lina Flint, Mary Aloe, Gillian Hormel, Andrew Karpen, Kent Sanderson, Adrian Love, Michael O’Leary, Stefan Kapelari, Moritz Peters, Blair Ward, Anders Erdén, Lauren Case, Eric Harbert, Michael Werry, George Heuser, Jacob Phillips, Stephen Griffiths, Christopher Payne, Dave Bishop, George Hamilton, James Pugh, Janina Vilsmaier, Fred Benenson, Morwin Schmookler, George Rush. Co-producer: Judit Stalter, Simon Ofenloch.
  • Crew: Directors: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson. Screenplay: Evan Johnson, from a story by Evan Johnson, Guy Maddin, Galen Johnson. Camera: Stefan Ciupek. Editors: John Gurdubeke, Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson. Music: Kristian Eidnes Andersen.
  • With: Cate Blanchett, Roy Dupuis, Denis Ménochet, Charles Dance, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Rolando Ravello, Takehiro Hira, Alicia Vikander, Zlatko Buric. (English dialogue)

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Still from Kinds of Kindness, with close-ups of (left to right) Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons and Willem Dafoe

Kinds of Kindness review – sex, death and Emma Stone in Lanthimos’s disturbing triptych

Cannes film festival Yorgos Lanthimos reinforces how the universe keeps on doing the same awful things with a multistranded yarn starring Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Jesse Plemons

P erhaps it’s just the one kind of unkindness: the same recurring kind of selfishness, delusion and despair. Yorgos Lanthimos’s unnerving and amusing new film arrives in Cannes less than a year after the release of his Oscar-winning Alasdair Gray adaptation Poor Things . It is a macabre, absurdist triptych: three stories or three narrative variations on a theme, set in and around modern-day New Orleans.

An office worker finally revolts against the intimate tyranny exerted over him by his overbearing boss. A police officer is disturbed when his marine-biologist wife returns home after months of being stranded on a desert island, and suspects she has been replaced by a double. Two cult members search for a young woman believed to have the power to raise the dead.

Lanthimos uses repertory casting – and part of the film’s eerie joke effect, the effect of seeing the universe mysteriously doing the same awful things over and over, is in witnessing the same actors repeatedly showing up. Jesse Plemons , Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe, Mamoudou Athie, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau and Joe Alwyn are each given a trio of roles, some intriguingly similar to each other, others quite different. Plemons is often stolid and unhappy. Stone is fierce and capable but sometimes vulnerable and sexual. Dafoe, of course, can’t help being the charismatic authority figure.

And what is even more unsettling is to see the same tropes, images and motifs come up: overeating, undereating; steak, chocolate, the same types of food. Dafoe’s overbearing executive Raymond gives Plemons’s unhappy underling Robert specific instructions on what to eat: “Because there’s nothing more ridiculous than skinniness on a man.” There are hospitals, ambulances, cops; places and people that mean unhappy submission to authority. Women get pregnant, and suffer miscarriages. People try to prove love by submitting to abuse and coercive control. There are recurring dreams whose contents are unsettlingly duplicated in waking existence. And perhaps most startlingly, there is sex, governed by a creepy roofie aesthetic. People keep drugging each other; Lanthimos keeps showing us unconscious naked women. And yet the men are the more contemptible and unattractive.

This is an uncanny world that looks like ours but really isn’t; like Emma Stone’s marine-biologist character, it has been perhaps replaced with a near-perfect copy by a malign unseen hand. Doubles and twins are another motif. And Lanthimos punctuates the bizarre recognition moments with a jarring, plinking piano key. The weirdness mosaic isn’t exactly like the Short Cuts of Robert Altman, who gave us a more recognisably human array of situations, nor is it exactly like the ensemble in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, although Plemons’s cop has the same morose quality as John C Reilly’s officer in that film. The strangeness and fear are more like Charlie Kaufman’s and John Frankenheimer’s horror in seeing something off, something wrong – giveaway hints of a conspiracy or a higher truth.

The effect of it all is elegant and overwhelmingly stylish, yet maybe there’s not a superabundance of substance to go with the style. Kinds of Kindness feels heavier and longer than I expected, as if reaching for a meaningful resolution that might not be there. Yet absence and loss is perhaps the whole point.

  • Cannes 2024
  • Cannes film festival
  • Drama films
  • Yorgos Lanthimos
  • Jesse Plemons

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‘rumours’ review: cate blanchett and alicia vikander play clueless world leaders in guy maddin’s very funny, truly silly dark comedy.

Canadian directors Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson satirize the ineffectual meagerness of global summits and draft resolutions in their Cannes-premiering romp.

By Leslie Felperin

Leslie Felperin

Contributing Film Critic

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Rumours

World leaders at a G7 conference politely bicker, copulate in the bushes and work on wafty, content-free speeches while a worldwide apocalypse commences — politicians, they’re just like us! — in collaborating Canadian directors Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson’s frequently hilarious latest feature.

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For those who like to keep score on these sort of things, this is also the first film directed by Maddin, let alone brothers Evan and Galen Johnson , that’s been programmed in Cannes’ official selection. Apart from the fact that it’s a welcome rib-tickler that breaks up this year’s festival’s monotonous procession of poverty porn and disappointments by fading auteurs, Rumours’ path to the Croisette was almost certainly smoothed by the presence of major names in the cast including Cate Blanchett , Alicia Vikander , Charles Dance and French star Denis Ménochet ( Beau Is Afraid , Peter von Kant ). That cast and the festival showcase won’t do any harm to the film’s commercial prospects. Bleecker Street recently announced they’ve acquired the rights for U.S. distribution.

The film’s most consistent running joke — worked so hard it goes from guffaw-inducing to stale to weirdly suddenly hilarious again, as if through attrition — concerns how seriously the seven world leaders take the process of drafting a joint statement full of platitudes, corporate-speak, psychobabble and song lyrics as they sit in a little woodland gazebo. So absorbed are they in their work, broken up into subgroups like high-schoolers assigned a class project, that they don’t even notice that their aides and servers have all mysteriously disappeared, leaving them alone in the woods.

In other ways, the leaders resemble middle-managers enjoying their annual conference with its catering, photo opportunities and time off from troublesome spouses — a particular concern for Canada’s prime minister Maxime Laplace ( The Forbidden Room ’s Roy Dupuis, rocking a man bun with an undercut like an aging pop star). Broad hints are dropped that Maxime had a fling with the United Kingdom’s otherwise goal-directed prime minister Cardosa Dewindt (Nikki Amuka-Bird). This year he’s caught the thirsty eye of host-country Germany’s elegant Chancellor Hilda Ortmann (Blanchett, showing off strong comedy chops, even in the way she Germanicizes her vowel sounds).

Rounding out the democratic world powers, Ménochet’s French President Sylvain Broulez is a grandiloquent blowhard who probably talks more than Japan’s reticent Tatsuro Iwasaki (Takehiro Hira) and Italy’s bumbling beta-male Antonio Lamorte (Rolando Ravello) combined. Both of the latter two, however, are aces as slow burns and understated reaction shots, especially Ravello.

Alicia Vikander, speaking only in her native Swedish for a change, shows up halfway through the film as the president of the European Commission, Celestine Sproul, when Maxime stumbles across her in the woods with the aforementioned giant brain, which you’ll have to watch the film to understand.

Not that understanding is really the point here. Rumours operates on a surrealist plane of its own, making up the rules of its universe as it goes along. Shall we have millennia-old boneless bog people who come to life and menace the guests, it asks itself, and the answer is yes, why not? What if the non-source music swells and bursts like the melodramatic score of a soap opera at times? Sure!

The whole thing sometimes feels like a skit show that just barely holds together until the filmmakers and cast bring it all home for a terrific climactic closure, in which all the buzzwords and banalities get to be rolled up into one triumphant speech shouted into the void as world burns. Like the best comic fantasies, Rumours has more than a grain of tragic truth to it.

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