Directed by Reid Carolin and Channing Tatum
Starring Channing Tatum, Ethan Suplee and a Dog(s)
What can’t Channing Tatum do? He can act. He can dance. And, yes, the man can SING. Can he also direct a feature length motion picture?
The answer is yes, but with a little help from fellow first-time-director Reid Carolin, the dude who wrote Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. The real question was – could a film that merges a road trip with a buddy flick between man and man’s best friend work for an hour and 41 minutes?
Dog isn’t the type of film I clamor to see. In fact, the trailers hinted that it would be a sentimental attempt at humanizing war veterans via a furry, cute and lovable Belgian Malinois. My interpretation of the trailer, however, was wrong. Dog isn’t an NFL-style Armed Forces propaganda recruitment video, it’s a heartfelt story about the damage that warfare has on the mind and body.
Plot-wise, Tatum’s first turn in the director’s seat focuses on a simple story: a man was in the military, now he isn’t. That man is coerced into delivering a dog to a funeral.
That man, Ranger Briggs, is of course played by Tatum himself and the film’s drama centers around the character trying to translate the primal feelings he employed in combat to civilian life. His struggle with this trauma and his interactions with Lulu, a combat dog with similar problems, make for a very engaging story.
Filmed like most road trip films, Dog features beautiful shots of the lush, green Pacific Northwest and the arid Southwest. Hi-jinx are bound to happen in a buddy road trip movie, and, even though I laughed a bit, the overwhelming sadness of our road-tripper’s journey was what defined my experience with the film.
Dog offers fun, interesting cameos from Ethan Suplee, Jane Adams and even former Wrestler Kevin Nash, but the bulk of this film is Briggs and Lulu figuring out life and each other while on the road in an old pickup.
So I guess Mr. Tatum can indeed direct a feature length film. With Carolin’s help, he took a simple plot and turned it into a meditative look at PTSD that examines the way we “reward” young men for aggression in this country. He’s officially a bonafide quadruple threat.
If road trip films like Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), Rain Man (1988) and Thelma & Louise (1991) are all A’s, then Tatum’s first go at directing is a B.