Dog Movie Review

Dog+Movie+Review

Londyn Lockwood, Contributor

I was truly surprised, as it was much deeper a film than the trailers let onto. It was, to me, a serious film framed as a comedy.  While there were funny moments, they buffered the more serious nature of the real topic- our veterans, human and canine alike, struggling to function in a world outside of the military. The film focuses on how they try to cope with the physical and mental injuries they sustain during their service, dealing with uncertain futures those injuries render. The combination of Channing Tatum, who plays ex army Ranger Jackson Briggs, a Belgian Malinois dog called “Lulu” and a fantastic script equates to a profound and thought provoking match made in heaven.   This movie is heartwarming, emotional, yet very real. How often do we either not think about, or not realize or appreciate the long term effects of war service and the enduring trauma that almost always accompanies it.   Lulu is a beautiful dog, whose sweet name doesn’t reflect its ferocity, yet it is so severely traumatized after undertaking many brave rescues in a war zone environment, as well as grieving at his handler’s death that nobody can now come near it & live to tell the tale. Lulu was so aggressive and traumatized, it was constantly heavily muzzled, kept on sedatives, and due to be put down after her handlers funeral.    

Then we have ex soldier Jackson Briggs who is desperate to get back into service after suffering a brain injury, trauma and PTSD.  Brigg’s constant attempts and pleas to be able to be reinstated keep getting knocked back, adding to his depression and sense of purpose.   He is given one lifeline & a chance to realize his desire & need to get back into service, but it is conditional on him successfully completing one task which is to drive Lulu to his handlers funeral in Arizona, a drive which would take many days. And so, the story is set with two wounded warriors, one human, one canine, and neither coping well with renewed social integration. What plays out is not just a road trip with many good and bad adventures and characters along the way, but a slow and steady rebuilding of trust and healing between Briggs and Lulu. There were many profound moments in this movie, none more so than when Lulu suddenly spots an Afghan man in a white robe in a hotel lobby and promptly escapes Briggs’s hold and races to attack the man. It was something he was trained to do during the war.  The event lands Briggs in jail and his ability to get Lulu to the funeral on time in severe jeopardy. Then there’s the heartwarming moment when Lulu refuses to get into a bath for a much needed wash is a charm personified by both animal & human.  

I must admit to almost shedding a tear at the funeral where Lulu spots his handlers boots which were laid out next to the coffin, and Lulu promptly lays next to them in an act which screams pure grief and trauma by an animal. This is not a sob-story but a realistic sense of what it’s like of the impact of war on both man and animal. The ending was a fitting tribute to the fact that something good can come out of trauma and healing can happen in many unexpected ways.

 

Movie rating 7/10