Finish out the ‘Dog Days’ of summer 2018 with a charming romantic comedy sure to put a smile on the face on even the ruff-est critic!
Hollywood’s hottest rising stars have come together for a feel good flick that lets man’s best friend steal the spotlight. Dog Days follows a group of down-on-their-luck Los Angeles folks, whose lives become intertwined over the course of one summer because of their love of dogs. At the center of the flick is Elizabeth, played by Nina Dobrev, an uptight, recently brokenhearted news anchor, who takes her dog to therapy and throws him birthday parties to get over her longtime boyfriend cheating on her. Turns out, all she really needed was to meet her new handsome co-host Jimmy (Tone Bell) and his dog, Brandy, to get her groove back. Then there’s Tara (Vanessa Hudgens), a barista who’s looking to do something more meaningful with her life and finds it in the form of tiny lost chihuahua, who ends up under the care of the hottest vet in the world (Michael Cassidy) and the kind-hearted owner of the local rescue shelter (Jon Bass). Across town, an elderly man (Ron Cephas Jones) loses his dog just after losing his wife, and begrudgingly accepts the help of a pizza delivery boy (Finn Wolfhard) to help find her. When he does, his beloved pup has found his way into the family of a lovely couple (Eva Longoria & Rob Corddry), who have just adopted a shy little girl, who finally opens up with the help of the pug. And finally, a slacker named Dax (Adam Pally) is forced to dog-sit for his older sister after she gives birth to twins and struggles with the level of responsibility that comes with keeping another living creative alive. (Spoiler: His turning point? The dog eats a pot brownie.)
The movie is sweet, albeit more than a little predictable, but the stand out performances of the next generation of romantic comedy stars are reason enough to show up. Nina Dobrev is charismatic and charming, playing both hopelessly lost and hopelessly in love with ease. And boy, can she cry! At one point, she lets it all out during a doggie therapy session, and I haven’t seen waterworks like that since, since — well, since Elena’s brother Jeremy died on ‘Vampire Diaries’ and Elena had just turned into a vampire and felt her grief 2x as strong because of it. So… clearly, she has a gift! Then there’s Vanessa Hudgens, who time and time again proves she’s the perfect casting choice for a lovable romantic type character, that can easily handle physical comedy. In a scene very reminiscent of Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele in New Year’s Eve, Vanessa’s character encounters a seemingly shady fellow in her building elevator and when she tries to play the hero, it all goes horribly wrong, with an expected, yet still kind of funny, twist involving pepper spray.
But while they have the least amount of screen time, it’s ‘Stranger Things’ star Finn Wolfhard and ‘This is Us’ icon Ron Cephas Jones that steal the show. Truly, I could’ve have watch their whole ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’ storyline for the full 2 hours and been perfectly happy. Ron gives a heartfelt performance that will bring you to tears at least twice. Okay, not William’s death level tears, but a light misting for sure. And the world really needs to watch out for this kid Finn. As time goes on and more roles come his way, he proves how versatile he really is. There’s much more Richie Tozier to this role than there is Mike Wheeler, but his chemistry with Ron is very touching and by movies end, you’re definitely cheering for their unlikely friendship. Drama, horror, comedy – and he sings? Not bad for a 15-year-old!
Yes, Dog Days is the kind of movie you’ve seen many times before, but there’s a reason why audiences keep coming back for more lighthearted escapism. And if that’s what you’re in to, Dog Days more than delivers.
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