Dog (CREDIT: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/SMPSP/© 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved)

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jane Adams, Kevin Nash, Q’orianka Kilcher, Ethan Suplee, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bill Burr, Nicole LaLiberte, Luke Forbes, Ronnie Gene Blevins

Directors: Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Veterans Struggling with Civilian Life

Release Date: February 18, 2022 (Theaters)

Dog is basically The Odyssey, but as if Odysseus’ crew were replaced by a military-trained Belgian Malinois named Lulu. She absolutely has to get to the funeral of the soldier who handled her, and Army Ranger Jackson Briggs (Channing Tatum) takes on the assignment to convince his superiors that he’s fit enough to head out on another tour of duty. So they trek down the Pacific Coast, and along the way they endure several tests of character and meet a fascinating array of folks. It’s a typical road trip buddy comedy of opposites who of course eventually realize that they’ve got more in common than they thought. They’re both experiencing PTSD after all, and they can be each other’s emotional support if they can just manage to open up.

At only an hour and a half long, you might expect Dog to have a fairly straightforward plot, but it’s actually a series of non-stop detours. As Jackson makes his first stop at a hipster bar in Portland and then finds himself in the throes of a tantric threesome, I found myself wondering what the heck was going on. That thought remained top of mind throughout, as the randomness of Jackson and Lulu’s excursions just kept pulling up. One day, they’re being held captive by a pot farmer who suspects espionage, and then soon after, Jackson’s impersonating a blind man to score a luxury hotel suite. When they end up at an encampment for unhoused people, I’m still wondering how they suddenly got to this point, but at least in this case the thematic resonance is immediately clear, considering the fate of too many veterans who are unable to find the support they need. Ultimately, much like the epics of yore, these vignettes do their best to paint a mythic panorama of the society we’re living in today.

Considering its subject matter and its pedigree, Dog has an appropriately shaggy disposition. It’s the directorial debut for both Tatum and Reid, who previously worked together on White House Down, 22 Jump Street, Logan Lucky, and both Magic Mike chapters. With this collaboration, they display plenty of empathy and patience, and in that spirit, Dog is worth warming up to. It’s not the most enthralling or life-changing experience at the multiplex today, but it’s got some tricks up its collar that can make you reconsider what it’s up to. Its happy ending is as formulaic as any platonic (pet-tonic?) rom-com in which it’s no surprise that Man and Mutt are going to fall for each other, but it’s endearing enough that you’re pleased when they do.

Dog is Recommended If You Like: Early 2010s Hipster-based comedy, A Carousel of Character Actor Cameos, Chew Toys

Grade: 3 out of 5 Dog