The dog is man’s best friend – or just man’s. In the cinema, women are usually assigned another animal that they can use to overcome trauma.
As a being with male connotations, the horse, for example, is often used as a cathartic transitional creature. In “The Horse Whisperer”, a traumatized 13-year-old and a no less disturbed horse learn to trust again. In men, on the other hand, dogs tend to have a therapeutic effect.
Channing Tatum’s directorial debut (along with Reid Carolin), the buddy and road movie Dog, adheres to this gender rule. As in the classic comedy Scott
However, the dog turns out to be a “bitch” in “Dog”. “You’re the only female here,” said ex-Army Ranger Jackson Briggs (Tatum) after their first encounter. He has the task of accompanying the army dog Lulu to the funeral of her deceased owner and thereby earning his superior’s favor again.
It is not only a chance for Jackson, who is addicted to pills and ignores his own stress disorder, but also for the dog who has been diagnosed as “difficult”. The animal, as Jackson found out while driving across the United States, was just as traumatized as he was. Both “served” under enemy fire, experienced casualties and injuries.
Perhaps Lulu, who at first stoically calls Jackson “Dog,” is even more damaged. When he uses her as a guide dog to dust off a luxurious hotel suite as an alleged war veteran, the scam is exposed because Lulu is trained to deal with “Arab”-looking people. In the hotel lobby, she attacks a man in a caftan.
Tatum says he was inspired by his own “Lulu” for the story. On the one hand, “Dog” plays with elements of the buddy movie, he throws his unequal duo into ridiculously dangerous situations; on the other hand, a dark undertone resonates – a sometimes strange mixture. When Jackson pursues the escaped Lulu in the middle of nowhere, he finds himself tied up with cable ties in a farmhouse.
He is able to free himself and, armed with an axe, goes in search of his dog: a martial scene that completely lacks the slapstick-like lightness of other films of this genre. Jackson eventually meets an elderly man and his wife (Jane Adams and Kevin Nash) who, with Lulu’s help, “channels” some of Jackson’s repressed issues. He has become estranged from his daughter and her mother.
Tatum places his symbolism of violence, as well as the themes of war trauma and patriotism, including racism, alongside typical buddy humor, although a meaningful connection rarely emerges from this. Jackson eventually realizes that he can no longer ignore his problems. But when two esoteric young women in hip Portland take him home for “chakra work” (“can you smoke that?”), he acts like a womanizer. Jackson does not dare to admit that the women, no matter how cliched they are, are right in their diagnosis of his internal injuries.