New out in theaters this week, Dog Days has all of the ingredients for a perfect romantic comedy: an A-list cast playing a variety of mostly likeable characters, a mixup of scenarios offering comedic opportunities, and enough “real world” moments that just about anyone can relate to and learn from. But the secret weapons of Director Ken Marino’s ensemble adventure are the film’s canine co-stars, a loveable bunch of non-pedigreed pooches who offer many of the movie’s memorable laughs. Below, I take a look at the “beachballs” (things I LOVED about the film) and “jellyfish” (things to be aware of or cautious about when viewing the film).
From actor/director Ken Marino, DOG DAYS is a hilarious and heartwarming ensemble comedy with an eclectic cast of characters both human and canine. DOG DAYS highlights the everyday connections between people and their dogs in Los Angeles as they uncover life lessons and new relationships in this romantic comedy.
Beachballs: What I Loved
Canine Compassion: If you’d have asked me a few years ago to watch a movie like Dog Days, I would have begged off since I’ve never really considered myself a “dog person”. Well, that was before “Calvin” came into my life and turned me into a “dog grandma”. As a result, having fallen head over heels in love with a goofy eighteen-month-old yellow lab, I found the premise of Dog Days to be charming. In our own family life, I’ve seen how adding a canine companion into the mix has brought along far more joy than shedding fur. The dog stars of Dog Days underscore the true compassion of dogs, the way they work themselves into our hearts and homes. We know–because studies have proven the fact–that pet owners derive health benefits, relational blessings and intellectual stimulation by caring for and living with furry friends.
Adoption: Because it’s a core part of the film’s plot, the topic of animal adoption is heavily promoted. On its website, the Humane Society of the United States lists the Top Ten Reasons to Adopt A Pet. But pet adoption isn’t the only type of adoption we learn about in Dog Days, as Grace (Eva Longoria) and Kurt (Rob Corddry) welcome their newly adopted daughter Amelia (Elizabeth Caro) into their home and hearts. While it’s lighthearted, the film also addresses some of the relational issues faced by adoptive families.
Responsibility: Having a pet means responsibility, and I love that this film teaches that lesson to Dax (Adam Pally), a “grown-up” who’s actually still a kid mooching off of his big sister. This film is a reminder that no family should adopt a dog until you are ready to provide for it financially, materially and emotionally.
Reverance for the Elderly: My favorite vignettes in Dog Days were the scenes between elderly, somewhat cranky widow Walter (Ron Cephas Jones) and slightly sassy teen Tyler (Finn Woodward). What starts off as an antagonistic relationship blossoms into a beautiful friendship which offers true healing for both characters. I love that Dog Days reminds us of the dignity of our elders and reminds us to listen to them, to spend time with them, and to soak up all of the wisdom and grace they have to offer us.
Care for Creation: While it can never be said enough, as people of faith we are called to be stewards of God’s creation around us. Mixed in with the giggles, Dog Days reminds us to care for others, even if they have four legs and a tail.
Jellyfish: Stuff to Watch Out For
Up front, I’ll share that Dog Days is a breath of fresh air in that it took the high road in most cases and earned a solid PG rating (for rude and suggestive content, and for language) and an AII (for adults and adolescents from the Catholic News Service – review here). This movie could easily have slid into PG13 territory. But there are a few things that viewers should consider before taking younger children to see Dog Days. Some of the adult relationships in the film involve adults living together outside of marriage and other veiled innuendoes. One character’s scenes involve controlled substances which are consumed by one of the dogs. One dog character is euthanized in the film. While this is done off camera, mercifully and with emotion, some children may find this challenging. Finally, and probably least offensive to most but something I must mention on a website for moms: the pregnant mother Ruth (Jessica St. Clair) and her hapless hubby Greg (Thomas Lennon) were the focus of just a few too many “crazy pregnant mom” jokes for my taste.
Why See Dog Days?
If you’re a dog lover, I’d say definitely go out to see Dog Days – you’ll laugh uproariously and fall in love with all of the characters, especially the furry ones. Be prepared that after the film, you may have to control the urge to run to your local shelter and bring home a new family member. If you’re NOT a “dog person”, I’d recommend seeing Dog Days too. You may learn something new about the loved ones in your life who have pets! Dog Days is a sweet summer story with lots of treats.
Copyright 2018 Lisa M. Hendey
Image copyright LD Entertainment, used with permission