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Dog Days – Movie Review

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Dog Days – Movie Review

Rating: D+ (Bad)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

People have a lot of affection towards dogs, so a Garry Marshall-esque ensemble picture about how pooches bring us together was inevitable. Even with its multiple subplots and characters, Dog Days just feels incredibly contrived and calculated in both the humour and emotion departments. While one storyline has some level of genuineness to it, most of the film is primarily an excuse to see good looking actors hang around with dogs. Director Ken Marino and his writers string the various participants together as best as they can, but the laughs rarely register and the giant neon “Cry” sign can be seen from the moon.

Every potential character one can envision shows up in Dog Days. There is the bickering and then romantically involved morning show hosts. There is the slacker musician and his sister dealing with newborns. And of course, there is the dog shelter that is on the brink of closing its doors. The dogs exist to provide the proper emotional support and comedic potential to these storylines as well as to look cute. To be honest, the filmmakers have wrangled up a sweet pack of canines, but there still needs a strong story to hold this large group of people. Dog Days just has trouble juggling many of them. A few genuinely funny actors, mainly Thomas Lennon and Lauren Lapkus, even disappear for a good chunk of the runtime.

Most of the attempts at emotion don’t land with quite the lasting impact the filmmakers are hoping for. A few sad bits are undercut by underwhelming attempts at comedy, including one scene that seems headed in the right direction. The romantic chemistry Dog Days wants to elicit in its actors falls a little short due to the clichés in the screenplay. The morning show hosts go through all of their expected story beats and their banter isn’t nearly as funny or biting as it should be. The conversations between Vanessa Hudgens’s barista and Jon Bass’s dog shelter owner mostly exist in awkward territory.

The only subplot that feels genuine involves a missing pug. The film manages to establish a decent connection between the pug and her elderly owner as well as the family that finds her. Ron Cephas Jones elevates the material and Marino gives him a number of scenes of Walter by himself waiting for his dog to return home that are effective. It’s these moments, plus the scenes of the young girl who finds the pug, that contain the emotion missing from the rest of Dog Days. There’s proper character development with Walter and his eventual teaming up with a pizza delivery boy that enhances this section.

The main attraction of Dog Days is ultimately seeing the various pups and pooches that run across the screen. The dog trainers deserve to be commended for how they get the proper expressions from these canines. It’s disappointing the rest of the film just rests on standard greeting card affection and tired sitcom humour. The actors try to bring some charm to the proceedings and Ken Marino certainly makes for an interesting choice to continue the mantle previously held by Garry Marshall. However, when only one section manages to resonate in an almost satisfying way, it makes one wish the rest of the movie was up to par.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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