As we enter the dog days of summer, the movie Dog Days is the perfect way to sit back, relax and take your mind off any news, weather or life situations that have caused you to become hot and bothered. Yes, it’s a predictable and, at times, unoriginal, romantic comedy/family drama hybrid, but it’s so good-natured and fun that it doesn’t need to be anything more than that. On the day I saw it, I had experienced a particularly frustrating day at the office. Dog Days was just what I needed to be able to crawl out of bed the next morning and start all over again.
For a PG movie, Dog Days has ever so slight an edge to it that keeps any of its five intersecting stories from becoming too sickly sweet. I recognized this from the very first scene and the first exchange of dialogue. When morning news anchor Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) chats with a guest pet psychologist played by Tig Notaro, the two enter into a back and forth game of name mispronunciation. The bit been done before, but it was a surprise off the bat and was especially effective with the bubbly Dobrev and the deadpan Notaro.
Then, I started recognizing faces from television series like Reno 911, Party Down, Children’s Hospital and Happy Endings, all shows with a singular sense of humor. It turns out that Dog Days was written, in part, by Erica Oyama (with Elissa Matsueda), from Children’s Hospital. Plus, it was directed by Ken Marino, who appeared in all four of the shows I mentioned. As far as I’m concerned, this movie has a pedigree as good as any of its canine actors. (Fresh Off the Boat is also a recurring show among cast and crew, but I can’t speak for its humor or quality.)
In story number one, Elizabeth’s depression over her breakup with a cheating boyfriend (Ryan Hansen) is reflected in her dog, which she takes to see the pet psychologist. Both she and her dog perk up when they encounter formal football player, Jimmy (Tone Bell), and his dog, first professionally, and then personally. Will her trust issues doom their relationship?
In story number two, loveable deadbeat musician Dax (Adam Pally) learns responsibility when he takes care of his sister’s (Jessica St. Clair) dog while she and her husband (Thomas Lennon) adjust to life with newborn twins. The two become attached, but what happens when the dog ingests a special “brownie”?
In story number three, a widower played by Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) loses his dog when he collapses on the street and it runs away. He’s rushed to the hospital thanks to the neighborhood pizza boy, played by Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things). The two form an unlikely friendship, but will his dog ever come home?
In story number four, Rob Corddry and Eva Longoria play a couple adopting a child that won’t interact with them. That is, until they find a lost dog, to which the little girl, Amelia (Elizabeth Phoenix Caro) becomes adorably attached. What will they do when they learn the identity of its owner (see above); will the family survive?
Finally, in story number five, which ties most of the other stories together, some more than others, pretty and spunky barista Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) becomes close to Garrett (Jon Bass) the owner of a pet rescue, when they plan a fundraiser. Will she deny her possible feelings for him when the hot veterinarian (Michael Cassidy) asks her out on a date?
The questions I asked for all five stories are rhetorical. No surprises; you already know the answers. Instead of making that a reason for not seeing Dog Days, though, I recommend you check your cynicism at the box office and go see it… with one warning. I don’t know of a dog movie in which a dog doesn’t die. Without spoilers, be prepared for it. There’s one scene that could be a little rough, although it isn’t milked for emotion and ends with a good, hearty belly laugh. The same smile that comes from that will likely accompany you home after the movie.