Review: DOG DAYS

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

From director Ken Marino (How to Be a Latin Lover) comes a comedy that has its share of charming and amusing moments, but suffers from the cliche tropes it inexplicably embraces.  Dog Days comes across as a strange hybrid of a movie which combines a sincere, loving tribute to canines with the overplayed beats of an ensemble comedy.  Because its tropes are so easily recognizable, the plot and its character development become crystal clear with no surprises whatsoever.  I suppose some audience members will devour this entire saccharine “effort,” but I found myself often bored and annoyed.

The film revolves around the lives of several dog owners and advocates who seem to have varying degrees of drama in their lives.  Morning TV show host Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) is an unlucky-in-love dog owner coping with the recent breakup with her boyfriend while dealing with the pressures of keeping her show fresh and exciting.  In order to spice things up a bit, her producers hire former NFL player Jimmy Johnston (Tone Bell), as her co-host.  The two have an awkward chemistry at first, but their love of dogs strengthens their bond and sparks some romantic feelings.  Meanwhile, struggling musician Dax  (Adam Pally) gets challenged with the care of his sister’s dog while she (Jessica St. Clair) and her husband (Thomas Lennon) care for their newborn twins.

Barista Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) pines for a veterinarian customer (Michael Cassidy) while a dog shelter manager named Garrett (Jon Bass) pines for her. Pizza delivery boy Tyler (Finn Wolfhard) helps regular customer Walter (Ron Cephas-Jones) find his missing dog who has ended up in the care of a loving family which has husband Kurt (Rob Corddry) and wife Grace (Eva Longoria) attempting to connect with their recently adopted daughter Amelia (Elizabeth Phoenix Caro).

Written by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama, Ken Marino’s movie probably would have been way better had it remained focussed on what it takes to care for dogs and how it can be a rewarding experience.  Though the film does that, it also goes into some tiresome and hackneyed territory with material found way too often in romantic and family comedies.  To be fair, I did laugh every so often and felt compelled by some of the more poignant beats, but these moments came mostly from the scenes with the dogs and not from any of the human melodrama.

Because Marino knows an assortment of talented comedic actors, the movie has its share of funny scenes and gags.  The film features some rather amusing scenes with Thomas Lennon, Jon Bass, Tig Notaro, Lauren Lapkus, Jessica Lowe, Phoebe Neidhart, and David Wane.  Now, as far as the main cast members are concerned, everyone performs adequately with no major standouts.

Despite the movie’s share of funny and charming scenes, and adorable dogs, nothing else really helps this movie stand out from the typical family and romantic comedies that Hollywood produces.  It is for that reason I cannot recommend spending money on full priced or matinee tickets for this movie.  This comedy would make for an enjoyable time at home with the family, but just doesn’t deserve any major box office returns.

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