Release Date: August 8th, 2018
An affection for canine companions permeates every scene of the new family comedy Dog Days. Directed by actor-turned-director Ken Marino, the film — which offers a slice-of-life portrait about dog owners — focuses on how important dogs can be in our lives. Starring a large ensemble cast, the feature attempts to show some of the highs and lows and bringing dogs into your life.
Tig Natora appears early on as a dog psychologist but it’s the psychology of humans that the comedy specializes in.
The film jumps from story to story. In one storyline, Jessica St. Clair and Thomas Lennon play Ruth and Greg, two parents adjusting to life with their newborn twins. They leave their dog with Ruth’s irresponsible brother Dax (Adam Pally). In another story, an older gentleman named Walter (Rob Cephas Jones) loses track of his dog and Tyler (Finn Wolfhard), a sarcastic pizza delivery boy, helps track the puppy down. There’s an additional storyline about Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev), a tightly-wound newscaster, befriending a former athlete named Jimmy (Tone Bell) who appears on her program.
There are plenty of other plot threads as well including a story about a couple (played by Eva Longoria and Rob Corddry) trying to bond with their newly-adopted daughter and the owner of a pet rescue facility (Jon Bass) who befriends a coffee shop employee (Vanessa Hudgens) across the street.
Although there are a few silly jokes, most of the film feels genuine and authentic. There isn’t a of slapstick here. Instead, the feature finds humor in great one-liners and comedic situations. In between some of the segments, the hilarious Natora pops up in a few select scenes to overcharge her patients.
Even when the dogs are offscreen, their presence is felt in some of the sweeter stories. Walter’s missing dog leads to a wonderful friendship with Tyler. As they search for the dog, the duo realize that they can offer each other something of meaning. Walter, a widowed man whose late wife pushed him to adopt, eventually brings Tyler into his life, offering to help guide him through summer school. In Elizabeth’s case, Jimmy’s affection for his dog leads to a better relationship between the sparringduo.
The family-friendly film does have its share of emotional moments though. In those moments, there’s real heartbreak. The feature doesn’t dwell on that painful aspect of the story but it does show them, offering a glimpse of the sadness that comes along with losing a dog.
Aside from those scenes though, the film is an optimistic look at what dogs can offer their human companions. Some of the stories may be predictable but the movie’s focus on the love and affection that bonds people and their pets together is a wonderful thing to behold.
The gentle and kind-hearted message that Dog Days offers viewers is something that we could all use in our lives. Both adults and kids should find something to appreciate in this hopeful story.
Review by: John Hanlon