The ensemble comedy Dog Days is an ambitious film exploring the connection between canines and their owners and examining how a passionate and intrinsic relationship with pets can have a profound effect on our lives. While the movie succeeds in some ways – with top-notch acting from a good cast – the script will let most viewers down. The plot is unfocused, failing to allow some of the more engaging storylines to develop.
Director Ken Marino does his best to transform the narrative into something tangible, bringing LA to life with gorgeous shots from all possible angles – from the sunny beach, via the studio of a large news channel, to the run-down flat of an unemployed musician. The feature is beautiful to look at – and equally nice to hear. Craig Warden’s soundtrack avoids falling into sentimentality, always staying fresh and atmospheric.
But even the picture’s successes cannot save the screenplay from itself. There are too many plotlines, making it difficult to determine the focus of the piece. Tara (Vanessa Hudgens), resentful of being locked in a job as a barista despite her college education, gets involved in a love triangle with veterinarian Dr Mike (Michael Cassidy) and socially awkward Garrett (Jon Bass), owner of a dog adoption facility. Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) is a newscaster, developing a relationship with her new co-reporter Jimmy Johnston (Tone Bell) while seeking advice from the dog therapist Danielle (Tig Notaro). Soon-to-be parents Ruth (Jessica St Clair) and Greg (Thomas Lennon) leave their pooch in the care of Ruth’s brother Dax (Adam Pally), an unemployed and irresponsible band member.
This confusion doesn’t even allow some of the more tired tropes to develop properly. The love triangle feels rushed and predictable; the same can be said for the liar-revealed plotline of Elizabeth and Jimmy. These problems are particularly frustrating considering the truly passionate and sometimes original storylines of Grace (Eva Longoria) and Kurt (Rob Corddry) who try to win the affection of their adopted daughter Amelia (Elizabeth Caro), and of elderly widower Walter (Ron Cephas Jones) who loses his pug – the only connection he still has to his deceased wife. His relationship with local pizza delivery boy Tyler (Finn Wolfhard) succeeds in almost all aspects and deserves more screen time.
Despite its flaws, Dog Days is reasonably entertaining with hit-and-miss comedy, some heart-warming passion and beautiful shots. The film is suitable for an audience seeking lightweight entertainment, provided they can overlook the lack of focus.
Dog Days is released nationwide on 10th August 2018.
Watch the trailer for Dog Days here: