“Dog Days,” Is Mostly Smiles and Tail-Wagging

Photo by Jacob Yakob - © New Tricks LLC
Photo by Jacob Yakob – © New Tricks LLC

Dog Days arrived in the dead of summer. A desolate time of the year where audiences can enjoy superhero movies left over from July, small indies that will later slip through the cracks or movies like Ken Marino’s Dog Days. The film plays like Gary Marshall’s Valentine’s Day, but with dogs, and that isn’t totally a bad thing.

We follow the lives of several dog-owning Los Angelinos, and the ways their pets change their lives. Eva Longoria and Rob Corddry play parents of a newly-adopted daughter who is having trouble adjusting to them. One day, they come across a lost pug that they take home. This dog helps them become a family! But this dog actually belongs to widower Walter (This is Us’ Ron Cephas Jones) and smart-mouthed pizza delivery boy Tyler (Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard) helps him track down his beloved pup.

This is one of about five storylines in Dog Days, and they all intertwine in the end. This is probably the most engaging storyline of the bunch, and even this is extremely pedestrian and cheesy. This is not a film that’s looking to break new ground. It brings together a lot of actors from the world of TV, and lots of “what-do-I-know-you-from?” actors, and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves enough. We spend just enough time for every actor to not overstay their welcome, and everyone is generally doing pleasant work.

Marino isn’t directing this with any flair, and the script by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama is littered with clichés, but the fun spirit of this movie is almost enough to overlook this and enjoy it anyway. I went from hating this movie to being bored with it, to almost really enjoying it near the end. It’s a mixed bag, but it does exactly what it sets out to do. It’s the cutesy dog movie.

Dog Days is not a film of ideas, nor is it one of any lofty ambitions. It doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen a million times before. But if you’re an animal lover, you could do worse. Many films centered around the relationships between dogs and their owners focus on the dog dying and making the audience cry. There’s a little bit of that here, but you probably won’t cry. It’s mostly smiles and tail-wagging. If you want the cutesy, harmless dog movie that might lift your spirits, this might do it for you. All others need not apply.

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