Dog Synopsis: With a dog named Lulu by his side, Army Ranger Briggs (Channing Tatum) races down the Pacific Coast to make it to a soldier’s funeral on time. Along the way, Briggs and Lulu drive each other completely crazy, break a handful of laws, narrowly evade death, and learn to let down their guards to have a fighting chance of finding happiness.
The misadventures of a man and his loyal pet often present ample opportunity for humor and genuine tugs at the heartstrings. While the pet subgenre relegates to thankless TV and streaming offerings nowadays, Channing Tatum and co-writer/director Reid Carolin reinvigorate the old-school formula with Dog.
Unsurprisingly, Tatum’s smooth charisma carries the road trip narrative throughout. As a bubbly yet volatile former Marine reckoning with his lingering traumas, the actor skillfully conveys the deeply-seated pains existing under the guise of his personable persona. Dog finds its groove when embracing its subject’s vulnerabilities, with the story’s ruminations on soldiers, both man and pet, effectively toiling in the aftermath of trauma.
Carolin and co-writer Brett Rodriguez showcase a thoughtful throughline, but Dog feels too scattershot to say much of note. The screenplay opts for a well-trudged journey down road trip comedy cliches, a decision that strips the material of its humanistic qualities. As a buddy comedy, Dog exists in an odd tonal quagmire. Some pratfalls play up to the slapstick comedy while others make bizarre attempts at crasser interactions.
Dog just never quite finds its bark. As an admitted dog lover, I am bummed that the film only occasionally taps into the simple joys of its premise.