BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 10, 2018
At the very least, “Dog Days” functions as a public service announcement for failing animal rescue centers and dog shelters. It highlights the painfully obvious necessity to adopt animals in need of a good home. But in every other regard, “Dog Days” is fluff. Having no real bearing on anything, its only real saving grace is that the dogs don’t talk (no offense “Homeward Bound”). The film and its often bland story feels dated. Had it come out in the early 2000’s, when Paris Hilton was just starting to make the dog an accessory, toting her chihuahua in her purse, it might have felt more prevalent. Instead, it just comes off stale and tired.
In his sophomore directing gig (“How To Be A Latin Lover” being his first), Ken Marino, best known for his acting roles (“Party Down” and “Veronica Mars” are my favorites) takes a Garry Marhsall inspired approach to intertwining the lives of his characters. See Marshall’s holiday ensemble cast films, like “Valentine’s Day” or “New Years Eve” if you need to see a slightly more tolerable version of this motif. Unfortunately, this ensemble cast is filled with either actors who deserve better roles and are phoning it in (i.e. Nina Dobrev and Tobin Bell) or are the equivalent of patterns on wallpaper, as they blend in with the background (i.e. Vanessa Hudgens, Jessica St. Clair, Eva Longoria, and Rob Corddry). Adam Pally (“Happy Endings”) ends up being the only one that remains consistently enjoyable throughout. Had Marino abandoned the ensemble idea and focused solely on Pally’s character, the film would have been for it.
“Dog Days” abandons depth and meaning for cute shots of a dog wearing a helmet with googly eyes. And even then, the dogs don’t feel as integral to the story as they really should be. Instead, the story gets aimed at romance. But with zero chemistry among any of the characters, that feels wasted. And maybe that’s alright. Will dog lovers really feel disappointed by a film that misses it mark, as long as there are plenty of cute pugs and chihuahuas to ogle over? Plus, when is any other film ever going to get to spend this much time telling you the importance of animal shelters? At one point, actor Jon Bass is giving a speech about adopting pets and you really start feeling justified in seeing this as one big, expensive public service announcement. But when it comes to entertainment value, it falls dismally short. The main lesson to be learned here is that relying solely on cute dogs and cute actors does not automatically make for a cute film.
August 8, 2018
(for rude and suggestive content, and for language)
Ron Cephas Jones
Jessica St. Clair