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Dog Days (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Dog Days

DOG DAYS (2018)

Starring Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Thomas Lennon, Tig Notaro, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Cephas Jones, Ryan Hansen, Jessica St. Clair, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Elizabeth Phoenix Caro, Jon Bass, Lauren Lapkus, Jessica Lowe, John Gemberling, Mo Gaffney and David Wain.

Screenplay by Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama.

Directed by Ken Marino.

Distributed by LD Entertainment. 112 minutes. Rated PG.

I can almost see the cram session which led to the making of Dog Days. “People love romantic comedies,” said some Hollywood suit. His co-creator pointed out that people also love dogs. Suddenly, a light bulb goes off over their heads, violins swell to a crescendo in the background and they both look awestruck. “You know what would be even more lovable?” they ask in unison. “How about a family-friendly romantic comedy about attractive young dog owners?” History is made. Fade to black.

If only Dog Days was worthy of such excitement. It is sweet, cute, and light as a feather. It is perfectly fine for what it is – which is essentially a Garry Marshall ensemble full-length sit-com with a whole lot of furry little friends. Not to say that Dog Days is as bad as Valentines Day, or New Years Eve. It’s actually often quite charming company if you don’t think about it too much.

Because, in many ways, Dog Days is like a real canine. It’s playful, single-minded, assertive, a little rambunctious, sweet, and just dying for your affection. It gets to the point that the movie pretty much jumps on you and licks your face so that you can luxuriate in its cuteness. It’s also just a little bit dumb.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a story that wants nothing but to be loved. In fact, it is rather nice in a movie world which has so much darkness and violence.

I just wish Dog Days was a bit better as a movie. Then it may deserve this wanted devotion. As it is, Dog Days is like watching someone else’s misbehaving mutt. It’s adorable for a while, but soon it starts to bug you a bit. Eventually you’re ready for it to leave. When it does, you never think of it again.

So, the main cast of characters in Dog Days (and their owners) are as follow:

There is Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev), the cute host of an LA morning show. Her television perkiness belies the angst and insecurity that rules her life. Things are thrown in a tizzy when she is partnered up by former athlete Jimmy (Tone Bell). They annoy each other so much that you know they will eventually fall in love. Besides, their dogs Sammy and Brandy love each other, so they’ve got to be a match, right?

Then there is Tara (Vanessa Hudgens), the adorable barista at a hip coffee shop who has been crushing on the hot veterarian (Michael Cassidy) who works across the street. She finds her in to get to know him when she finds a tiny stray chihuahua named Gertrude (because Tara loves Gertrude Stein – yeah, right). She can’t take the dog home because her apartment building won’t let her keep a dog. Beyond getting to know the hot doc better, she also gets to know the nerdy guy who owns the local non-kill shelter (Jon Bass), who coincidentally has been awkwardly crushing on her for months.

Also in Tara’s apartment building is Dax (Adam Pally), who has been having to sneak his sister’s hound Charlie into the building to care for him while his overwrought sister is giving birth to twins. Dax plays in and manages a band that specializes in ironic alt-rock covers of cheesy pop hits – including Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” New Kids on the Block’s “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” The Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and, oddly, the relatively-respected quiet storm jam “Sweet Love” by Anita Baker. He seems to have a bit of a crush on the lead singer (Jasmine Cephas Jones), whose character is not supposed to be related – as far as I can tell – to the character played by her real-life father Ron Cephas Jones.

That character is an aging widower and former UCLA English professor who has become a curmudgeonly shut in since the death of his wife. The only thing he loves is his wife’s beloved mutt Mabel. When a local teen pizza delivery guy (Finn Wolfhard) teasing him leads to Mabel getting lost, the two guiltily scour the city looking for the missing dog. Little do they know that Mabel ends up living with the kid’s teacher (Rob Corddry) and his wife (Eva Longoria), who have just adopted a little girl and the dog was the first thing that opened the kid up to living at home.

There are more people and dogs who romp in and out of the storyline, making variable splashes before puttering off. Honestly, most of the characters in general are a little one-dimensional – only Cephas Jones’ aging professor really makes an emotional connection with the audience.

But, still, there are lots of cute puppies and cute people that make Dog Days a mostly painless experience, if not exactly a profound one.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: November 19, 2018.

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