Channing Tatum directorial debut Dog a strange beast

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Channing Tatum returns to the big screen in his first leading role in five years in Dog, not just as actor but stepping into the co-director chair as well.

He plays Jackson, an ex-soldier desperate to get back into the army despite a head injury doctors warn is likely to give him seizures.

After a memorial for another ex-soldier, who we’re told died by driving into a tree, he is given the task of driving the soldier’s army dog Lulu across the country to the funeral, in return he will get a recommendation to be re-enlisted.

Cute dog tames war wounded soldier this is not, Lulu is aggressive even by army dog standards, and the fact the film often tries to play this aggression for laughs is just the beginning of its mixed up tone.

On the one hand, you have a likable and goofy Channing Tatum on a road trip with a dog packed with hijinks.

Channing Tatum returns to the big screen in a leading role for the first time since 2017.
Camera IconChanning Tatum returns to the big screen in a leading role for the first time since 2017. Credit: Roadshow Films

And on the other, you have a film about the severe mental and physical damage army veterans are left to deal with pretty much on their own.

These two aspects not only never feel coherent, it almost feels like they’re working in opposition.

Each one threatens to overwhelm the other until you have no idea what the film itself really thinks about the issues it presents.

Is the film showing us that Jackson makes jokes around the deaths of people in middle east at the hands of American soldiers as a coping mechanism, or does it actually want us to laugh?

You hope it’s the former, but with scenes like an incident with Lulu attacking a man dressed in middle eastern style garments played for laughs, it’s hard to tell.

Dog could have been a simple but effective story of two damaged war veterans helping each other rediscover life beyond the army and in parts it is. But it’s priority of comedy over anything else makes it a strange beast.

Dog (M)

Director: Channing Tatum & Reid Carolin

Starring: Channing Tatum, Ethan Suplee, Kevin Nash

Two and half stars

Now showing

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