Dog Days Review: And They Called it Puppy Love
Dog Days is the newest comedy from director Ken Marino. The film follows a group of Los Angeles residents who are dealing with various problems in their day to day lives. While their stories are all different, they do have one thing in common, they all have a special dog in their lives.
I love dogs and can tell you that my two dogs, Tarzan and Teddy, bring tremendous joy and happiness into my life. Dog Days will hopefully mark the return of the great dog movie, which is something that I feel has been missing from cinema for nearly two decades. I grew up in the 80s and 90s so watching films about dogs was very common. I remember falling in love with Milo and Otis, Homeward Bound, Turner & Hooch, and Beethoven. Every so often a decent dog film comes along like Marley & Me but those are so rare nowadays. Instead, we get films like Show Dogs or the plethora of direct to streaming films that feature talking or singing dogs which let’s be honest, just give movies about dogs a bad name.
What is so irresistible about Dog Days is while the dogs are all adorable and play a crucial role in the lives of their prospective owners, it is the human relationships within these stories that becomes the film’s biggest selling point. I will say this now, please don’t go into Dog Days expecting a film that will redefine the modern-day romantic comedy because clearly, this isn’t that movie. Think of this as more of a throwback to the great family friendly dog comedies of the 80s and 90s where there were plenty of laughs and a lot of heart wrapped up in a family-friendly adventure. Dog Days is a feel-good family film and one of the best ones that I have seen all year.
The film itself is told through five interweaving storylines. Each of these stories focuses on a group of characters and a specific problem. Some of these stories are interconnected while others are standalone. It needs to be said that this cast is also naturally diverse. Dog Days is a family film that highlights diversity without making a big fuss about it. I applaud Ken Marino for doing this since the entire cast is all around fantastic as each actor brings something unique to the film. I think the easiest way to talk about the storylines is to summarize each as well as the actors who are involved in the story
Nina Dobrev plays Elizabeth, an L.A. Morning tv show host that is struggling to trust again after walking in on her boyfriend cheating on her. While trying to deflect her own feelings onto her dog, Elizabeth sees a doggie therapist for emotional support. After refusing to admit that she is upset and depressed about the breakup, her morning show manager begins to notice a sharp decline in the ratings. Elizabeth is now forced to co-host the show with Jimmy (Tone Bell), a charismatic and charming ex-football player, who may have a crush on her.
Dobrev and Bell’s storyline gets the most screen time of all the storylines. The chemistry between Dobrev and Bell is incredible. I haven’t seen Bell in much before this role, but he is so likable as Jimmy. While this is a cutesy romantic comedy, I did like how the film didn’t glance over Elizabeth’s struggle with trusting men. I liked that even though Jimmy was such a nice guy, the story showed that she constantly struggled with the relationship due to her previous experience.
The second largest storyline revolves around Vanessa Hudgens who plays Tara, a twenty-something barista trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She spends most of her time talking with her friend Daisy (Lauren Lapkus) about serving coffee while stalking Dr. Mike (Michael Cassidy), a hot veterinarian that works across the street. However, it isn’t until Tara begins to interact with Garett (Jon Bass), an awkward dog-lover who often visits the coffee shop, that she begins to find her way. Garrett invites Tara to volunteer at his local dog rescue which gives her life a whole new sense of purpose.
This storyline was so damn charming mainly due to the pairing of Hudgens and Bass. At first, I didn’t think I would like these two actors together, but they proved me wrong. As their storyline continued, I couldn’t help but fall in love with both of their characters because they are equally awkward and perfect for one another. Plus, their storyline features the film’s most adorable dog, Gertrude and is all about helping dogs find homes, so it was nearly impossible for me not to love this one.
Adam Pally plays Dax, a slacker musician that is forced to watch Charlie, his sister’s dog after she gives birth to twins. This is the film’s third storyline and the weakest of the five. Listen, I love me some Adam Pally, but the problem with this storyline is that besides having a big cute dog in it, the storyline lacks the level of heart found in the rest of the storylines. This, however, is probably the most humorous of all the stories. Pally is good at making the audience laugh as is his sister played by Jessica St. Clair and her husband played by Thomas Lennon. The thing I liked the most about this story was the interaction between Dax and Charlie. There is a great scene with Charlie eating something which he shouldn’t have which generated one of the film’s biggest laughs in my screening.
In the fourth storyline, Eva Longoria plays Grace, and Rob Corddry plays Kurt, a married couple who have just adopted a little eight-year-old girl named Amelia (Elizabeth Caro). As Grace and Kurt try their very hardest to get Amelia to adapt to her new home and life, she is very resistant to the change. It isn’t until they are at the park where Amelia spots a stray pug roaming around the area. Amelia instantly clings to the pug and begs her new mommy and daddy to let her keep him.
I adored this storyline because it felt very true to life. As someone who grew up in a home with several foster children and has six adopted brothers, I know that bringing a child into a new environment isn’t a very easy transition for anyone. The fact that this family begins to bond and connect over this cute little fat pug is something that I can see actually happening. Dogs need people, and they also need love so having Amelia find this dog and as a result, it helps bring the family together isn’t just sweet but something that feels authentic and real.
Finally, the fifth and final storyline features Ron Cephas Jones as Walter, an older man who has recently lost his wife and whose only remaining friend is his dog, Mable. When Mable goes missing, Walter forms an unlikely bond with a pizza delivery boy named Tyler (Finn Wolfhard). Without giving too much away, the two end up helping out each another and form a unique friendship.
This was my favorite storyline in the film. While the family adoption storyline comes in as a very close second, I felt this one was the most emotional of the bunch. Ron Cephas Jones, who is best known for playing William Hill on This is Us is simply spectacular once again. Jones has a way with words, and his line delivery is so spot-on. Also, you should be warned that you will need to bring tissues as you will definitely need them as this storyline draws to a close.
All in all, Dog Days is a doggone delight and has easily become one of my favorite films about dogs of all time. The entire cast along with their doggie co-stars are terrific at delivering big laughs and a ton of heart. Dog Days isn’t the type of film that is made to change the genre but instead is made to make you feel good. This is my favorite film featuring multiple storylines since Love Actually. The dogs bring the cuteness, but the humans bring the heart.
Scott ‘Movie Man’Menzel’s rating for Dog Days is an 8 out of 10.