By Tracy Wang
After many films on dogs recently, we seem to have watched enough already, but the arrival of ‘Dog Days’ wittily and touchingly lifts us from the stupor of watching too many films of this kind, and delivers a two-hour film that is full to the brim with laughter, romance, family and love.
The film opens with Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev), an anchor of a TV show in Los Angeles, doing a not-so-successful interview with a dog therapist, and expressing her undying love for dogs. Uptight and always professional, Elizabeth has been on the verge of a breakdown, after she found out some ugly truth from her boyfriend. Then, the lens turns toward around ten other characters who all come from different backgrounds, but they are all connected somehow by human’s best friends: dogs.
We meet Tara (Vanessa Hudgens), a barista who is not contented with her life, Dax, a musician who is the representation of irresponsibility, Walter, an old English professor who still mourns the death of his wife, and many others whose lives are all impacted by a dog or two.
Even though the main theme of this film is already being said and done by many others, ‘Dog Days’ remains to be a fresh breeze in this hot summer day. A family comedy-drama that would have been easy to fall into the cliches of humans’ love for dogs and dogs being our best friends, the film manages to give us some very original wittiness and some clever plot points that are just fun to watch.
With a story that is about more than ten characters, the film successfully directs our attentions to each and every one of them, and fortunately, in this almost-two-hour-film, we do not find a single character whose presence is not needed.
Every one of them comes from a diverse background, and all of them have some kind of worry in life or passion for change. The director and writer make watching their individual stories a smooth experience, and in the end of the film, we feel like we know those characters, and we share their lives that are filled with loss, love, growth and most importantly, dogs.
Though every character is played beautifully by the actors, the role that stands out belongs to Walter which is played by Ron Cephas Jones. Jones portrays an old man who has been caged in his big house, and who is ready to love if given the opportunity. His performance exudes a raw honesty and elegance.
Perhaps what makes ‘Dog Days’ so different from the rest is its focus on how the dogs transform the characters instead of simply how humans love the dogs. Through characters who are not necessarily dog lovers, but are transformed by some incidents that involve dogs, we see the power of love, and the possibility of humans being changed for the better by dogs.
The dog days of Seattle has arrived already, and ‘Dog Days’ in cinema will surely be a great summer movie that make your heart swell with love.