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Do we love our pets more than we love people? Are canines and felines more important to 21st-century North Americans than fellow humans, created in God’s image? The previews for Dog Days had me worried that this would be yet another movie where dogs and cats are portrayed as so much worthier than their masters.
Surprise! While certainly awash with cute rescue dogs and frisky pets, Dog Days focuses on human friendships and relationships, with animals playing an important but supporting role. (Parents should note premarital sex is implied, but not shown, in the PG film, and several characters casually use the Lord’s name.)
The story follows four sets of characters in and around LA, with dogs bringing people together, sparking friendships, and helping families adapt to new circumstances. TV news host Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) has dumped her cheating boyfriend, and her dog seems to be grieving along with her. She visits a pet psychiatrist: The audience is never quite sure if she or her dog is the subject of the counselor’s questions and advice.
Tara, a barista (played by Vanessa Hudgens), thinks the handsome but slightly self-centered veterinarian across the road is her perfect match. But her work in a dog adoption center helps her meet the less confident but more caring director of the animal shelter. Which one will she choose?
A husband and wife are excited and nervous as they bring their adopted daughter home for the first time. A husky stray dog they bring home helps their daughter become more comfortable with her new life. But when they find the canine’s real master, will she be willing to give up her new friend?
Overgrown adolescent Dax has few responsibilities besides showing up to his musical gigs on time. Now his sister, pregnant with twins, needs him to dog-sit. Finally, an opportunity for him to do something for someone else.
Each of these scenarios could be cliché. And the script does stick to fairly safe ground, with few twists that the audience couldn’t predict. Yet, by focusing on human relationships rather than canine, Dog Days is an enjoyable, humorous, and at times, genuinely moving film.