“You are more than just a dog”, reads one of the lines from what seems to be deceased Army Ranger, Riley Rodriguez’s (Eric Urbiztondo) letters to his Army trained dog, Lulu. The quote does hold truth in the film as we follow Channing Tatum and Lulu across towns on a road trip that promises to be a ride filled with misadventures. For canine lovers, Dog is a film that will instantly tug at your heartstrings thanks to the ably captured journey of bonding between an Army Ranger and a PTSD-scarred dog who find comfort in each other amid uncertainty. The film co-directed by Tatum alongside his Magic Mike collaborator Reid Caroli consists of every crowd-pleasing element in the book that would be required for a film starring Tatum and an adorable dog as his co-star.
Much of the honest emotions that flow onscreen from Tatum’s side in Dog seem to be a result of two main things, one that the canine character is named after the actor’s own deceased dog and second that Tatum after producing the documentary War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend, was truly enthralled by what he saw regarding Army trained dogs and was convinced that if he had to take up a leading role after his four-year acting break, it had to be this one and it’s a right decision because Dog is a film that will appeal to one and all.
Dog follows Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum), an Army Ranger who is tired of making sandwiches for minimum wage and desperate to see action again after being benched by the army following a brain injury that induces seizures. Hell-bent on returning to ground zero once again, Briggs tries hard to convince his commanding officer into signing off on his transfer to a war zone. While his CO decides to help out Briggs, there’s one assignment he must finish in order to be dispatched again and it involves driving Lulu, a Belgian Malinois (played by three dogs, Britta, Lana and Zuza) and an Army dog who served in Afghanistan to the funeral of her previous handler and Briggs’ co-ranger, Riley Rodriguez’s (Eric Urbiztondo). What seems an easy job for Briggs (Tatum) at the start begins to soon turn into a nightmare as he’s unable to handle Lulu who’s going through an equally traumatic time as him.
From ruining his glorious threesome in Portland to discovering a pot farm to chewing up his entire car seat, Lulu’s never-ending misadventures during their road trip leave Briggs more than upset and keep him away from truly trying to bond with her at any point. Although following a meet with pot grower (Kevin Nash) and his psychic wife (Jane Adams), Briggs gets a first-hand experience of how Lulu can be as good a dog as any if you let her in and listen to what she wants, the duo’s dynamic drastically changes. From jumping into the bathtub together to eventually Lulu eating treat out of his hand while watching a Grey’s Anatomy re-runs, the duo finally bond. Although goodbyes can be hard and hence on completion of his assignment, Briggs must now bid adieu to Lulu who according to the army has lost her ability to serve again. Following a road trip with the canine that in turn heals him as well, will Briggs let Lulu go is what is left to see.