Film critics often talk about tone and the way it shifts when one sequence leads into another. This is because balancing the tone between scenes is an important part of the editing process and it is used to help guide audiences threw the proceedings. However, tone is often preordained by the writers and can be damn near impossible for an editor to fix. Which is what I personally think went wrong with Channing Tatum’s directorial debut, ‘Dog’.
It’s clear from the premise, and what I know of Tatum’s previous work, that he has an affinity for soldiers and their struggles. As an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran myself, and someone who cared for soldiers in the 82nd Airborne that came back with PTSD, I also have that affinity. And while this story begins and ends with a clear respect for soldiers (man and dog), it doesn’t seem to care much about anything during the bulk of the journey.
Instead, the movie plays like the most ridiculous road trip story you can imagine. The kind of thing that you would tell someone that they would never believe. In this case, it’s because it’s about as likely as winning the lottery 2 times in a row. In one sequence alone, Tatum’s character ( ) loses the dog, randomly finds a pot farm, gets tranquilized, gets tied up, sets out to kill someone with an axe, and ends up getting high on edibles with the guy instead. Oh, and the guys wife believes she can see the future.
That’s one detour in a series that involve everything from a botched threesome to a botched blind veteran con. And the way that con gets botched literally makes its biggest joke moments after the dog attacking a man of Muslim decent because that’s what these dogs were trained to do.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that these events could never work in a movie and that they might not work for some other people that watch them, but the tonal changes in them were jarring to me. In fact, they were so jarring that I often found myself with a look of confusion and befuddlement when a few others were laughing at these supposedly comedic situations. I think I may have smiled once or twice and they were always because of the dog.
A story about a troubled soldier that is battling brain injury and finds a relationship with a broken war dog good be great. It could even be funny, but only with the right story. Sadly, this is not that movie. Some may enjoy it and more power to them. This ex-soldier is hoping for something better next time.