Dog Days (2018)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
People love big ensemble romantic comedies, and Dog Days delivers a double-digit cast, romance, dog humor, and TV movie-ready comedy that makes this easily digestible entertainment.
The preview audience loved this movie a lot. The dogs are adorable, the stories light and predictable, and offers complete escapism from the outside real world.
Scattershot edgy humor, coupled with two surprisingly emotional scenes late in the movie, helps make Dog Days a better movie than it seemingly has any right to be.
Very much in a similar vein to the late Garry Marshall movies like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, Dog Days is better than those films, but its odd balance of humor and melodrama will induce a lot of eye-rolling.
If you have seen any movie with a dog or a romantic subplot of any kind, you have already seen this movie and know everything that will happen.
WHY is this 112 minutes long? WHY?!?!?!!?!?
Dog Days is a movie that takes about a dozen stars, five main dogs, and tosses them all into the script machine and churns out a movie as predictable, safe, and unimaginative as you can get.
We have romantic entanglements, a missing dog, a misguided crush, and a secret stashing away of a pupper in an apartment where dogs are not allowed.
In reality, you have essentially seen a movie like this a thousand times before. The late Garry Marshall made a trio of movies like this centered on holidays (New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day), and those were all kind of awful. Dog Days, while not really a good movie, somehow became an experience that had me feeling happy by the end.
Who’s a good dog?
We have a lot of movie going on here, as director Ken Marino steers us through six (!?!) main stories, set in and around Los Angeles.
Ruth (Jessica St. Clair) and Greg (Thomas Lennon) are parents to newborn twins and Ruth’s screw-off brother, Dax (Alex Pally), is tasked with taking care of their “Charlie Boy.” Barista Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) is crushing hard on local veterinarian Dr. Mike (Michael Cassidy), but is clueless that an awkward customer, Garrett (Jon Bass), is smitten with her.
Another set of parents, Kurt and Grace (Rob Corddry, Eva Longoria) are anxious to begin life with their newly adopted daughter Amelia (Elizabeth Caro), but struggle to find a way to connect with her.
Elsewhere, local television anchor Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) sees her awkward interview with retired football star, Jimmy Johnston (Tone Bell), land her an unexpected new co-host to her daily morning show. Garrett’s non-profit dog rescue business has just lost its building, while recently widowed Walter (Ron Cephas Jones), has a 16-year-old pizza delivery boy (Finn Wolfhard) accidentally cause his beloved pug, Mabel, to run away.
Over-stuffed, but manageable, Dog Days is stuck in a weird comedy/drama purgatory. Written by Elissa Matsueda (The Miracle Season) and Erica Oyama, who has written for some of the strange and bizarre adult-skewed comedies on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming (The Eric Andre Show, Children’s Hospital), this is a bit of a mess. The comedy veers from family-friendly to hinting at something more edgy. The melodrama is scattered, and when all else fails, Marino gives us dog close-ups.
Marino’s film is not without its positives. As Walter, Cephas Jones finds several moments of tenderness in his scenes opposite “Stranger Things” star Wolfhard, the pair creating an unlikely friendship. Dobrev and Bell find great chemistry on screen together. Comedienne Tig Notaro is great fun in a cameo as a therapist with questionable hourly rates.
Yet, make no mistake, this is all so predictable and on-the-nose. Imagine a Hallmark Channel or Lifetime Network Movie of the Week - just, you know, in a theater, with recognizable actors. That’s Dog Days.
Thankfully, we are not seeing the dogs talk, hearing their thoughts in narration, or otherwise making them anthropomorphic. The humans are the stars, the dogs clearly land the supporting roles, but somehow, almost inexplicably, Dog Days becomes a really easy escape.
I mean…is Charlie going to bark and get Dax evicted? Will Mabel ever find her way back home? Will the stray dog Kurt and Grace find with their adopted daughter help bring them together as a family? Will Garrett save his dog rescue business? How hot is Dr. Mike anyway?
You get it.
Sweet-tempered, Dog Days is a movie a dog enthusiast will probably swoon for. The film is harmless, and delivers two surprisingly emotional scenes in the last half hour or so that caught me completely off guard.
Oh Dog Days...come over here and let me scratch you under that chin. You are simply too cute to ever be mad at.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Elizabeth Caro, Ron Cephas Jones, Finn Wolfhard, Michael Cassidy, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Thomas Lennon, Jessica St. Clair, Lauren Lapkus, Ryan Hansen, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Jessica Lowe, Toks Olagundoye, Tig Notaro.
Director: Ken Marino
Written by: Elissa Matsueda, Erica Oyama (screenplay); Elissa Matsueda (story)
Release Date: August 9, 2018