Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Thanks to LD Entertainment and Allied Marketing for an invitation to an advance screening of Dog Days.
When it comes to genre of films about dogs, there have certainly been a plethora of highlights. Old Yeller, 101 Dalmatians, and Lassie are only a few examples of the long-running collection of films. These films rank as some of the best of the genre and could also be considered some of the best films of all time due to their innovation, simplistic yet effect storytelling, and riveting characters. However, with 2018’s latest release Dog Days, these attributes that led to some of the most enjoyable and emotional films of the 20th century prove to be lacking. Dog Days is more than just a cluster of clichés; it is a downright mess. From the clunky editing to the repetitive nature of the screenplay, there simply isn’t a single ounce of innovation or originality present in the rather boring 113 minutes that I spent with the film. From the very first scene to the very last, Dog Days is a disappointing, clustered, and derivative experience that is an utter disgrace to the amazing race of animals it is trying to portray.
When it comes to the screenplay of Dog Days, the most noticeable aspect is that often times it doesn’t even seem as if there is a screenplay. Every scene feels ripped straight out of other films and makes the experience rather hollow. Not a single aspect in the film’s story or pacing is wholly unique, outside a few minor details here and there. From the characters to the actual dogs themselves, nothing makes the experience any different than any other bland dog film on the market. It places Dog Days as one of the most unnecessary films in recent memory. Outside of being a cash grab for avid fans of dogs from young children to the squealiest of female teenagers, Dog Days doesn’t bring anything new to the table in its story. It may succeed for the demographics listed previously, but for anyone else, the screenplay causes the film to come off both as cheap and underwhelming. However, in the age where every screenplay appears to be derivative of other films, the issue is somewhat more tolerable but is still made even worse by just how discombobulated the film is in its storytelling.
When first viewing the trailer for Dog Days, it will become immediately apparent that there are multiple lead protagonists in the film. Ranging from the quirky personalities of Nina Dobrev’s Elizabeth to the over-bearing confidence of Adam Pally’s Dax, these characters are essentially storylines, with a numerical total of four of them. Within the hands of more capable filmmakers, this could have been an ingenious concept. However, in Dog Days, it feels far too ambitious. Trying to balance these four storylines proves to be the biggest headache that audiences will find in the film. The storylines are divided in such an obtuse and rather clunky fashion that it causes the pacing of the film to feel disjointed. The act of jumping from a heart-driven emotional moment to a cheap attempt at a laugh almost becomes the standard for every transition in the film. The whole reason that multiple storylines are used as a plot device is for the arcs to merge and have recurring themes. This is seen in other recent films that have implemented the tactic to a large degree, such as Christopher Nolan’s recent films Dunkirk and Inception. With director Ken Marino’s Dog Days, there simply isn’t any of that present. As a result, the storytelling choice comes off as dysfunctional and pointless, adjectives that should never be used to describe a plot device in a film.
Due to such a derivative plot and pointless implementations of plot devices, the screenplay that is present in Dog Days is nothing short of disappointing. It has dialogue that often caused myself to roll my eyes or shake my head in fury. It has a plot that is both inconsequential and ripped straight from other better films. And it also shows the use of a discombobulated plot device, in a narrative tapestry that falls apart in a split second. As a result, it simply cannot be understated, even after some disastrous screenplays from Skyscraper and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, has one of the worst screenplays for any film this summer.
As for the performances, they are somewhat the saving grace of the entire motion picture. However, that doesn’t mean that they are all of the same quality. In fact, the performances have as much inconsistency as the screenplay even. Tone Bell’s Jimmy and Nina Dobrev’s Elizabeth both prove to be charming and likable, with sheer charisma oozing out of each scene that they share together. Vanessa Hudgens also proved to be ideal for her character Tara, even if the character isn’t really more than a shallow shell of stereotypes from other films.
However, on the other hand, Jon Bass’s Garrett and Michael Cassidy both prove to be misfires. Neither is given much screen time, a minor compensation for the many cheesy and eye-rolling moments that the two actors cause for the audience, but they still seem inexperienced and immature in their performances. There wasn’t a single moment where I found myself convinced that these were two exceptional actors, because they seem more like high school students in a school musical rather than big-budget actors.
Ultimately, words cannot describe how shallow of an experience Dog Days is. From its incompetent screenplay to a mixed collection of performances, there are little redeeming aspects about the feature. It becomes both messy and ridiculous as the film advances and proves to easily be one of the worst films ever put on the screen for this summer. It’s disappointing to say the least that such amazing animals are given such a lackluster film to star in. Dogs as a race deserve better than what Dog Days as a film affords them.
Score: 2.9 out of 10
From acclaimed production company LD Entertainment (The Zookeeper's Wife, Jackie, and Megan Leavey) and Director Ken Marino comes Dog Days. Dog Days is a hilarious and heartfelt ensemble comedy that follows the lives of multiple dog owners and their beloved fluffy pals around sunny Los Angeles. When these human and canine's paths start to intertwine, their lives begin changing in ways they never expected.