"Benji" meets "Backdraft" (though closer to a Three Stooges version). Superstar dog Rexxx falls from a plane in a failed stunt, bringing him to Shane's doorstep. Shane, 12, is having a tough time, with his mom having cut out on him and his fire captain dad Connor. Shane's uncle, also a fire captain, recently died in an arson fire, which paved the way for Connor's reluctant promotion to the captain of Engine 55 in the large, no-name city (but filmed in Toronto).
Shane and the dog don't get along at first, but then they do, they bond, and have a few adventures, and a few laughs. The audience in my theatre was a little tough to gauge; being both a school-night release and 7:30pm, myself, the solo dad and the little boy with the persistent cough had the place to ourselves.
The story itself wasn't horrible, but it also wasn't overly creative. For the younger patron, it's good enough, though at nearly two hours (1:51), it may also be a bit too long... but if they got through "Cars," they will manage this film fine.
There's the usual undercurrent of misdeeds, namely the arson fires, and how curious it is that all the fires are concentrated in Engine 55's section of town. The investigators don't really figure out the scam, but then again, aside from glancing at a newspaper article toward the end, the director doesn't really let us in on it, either... if you caught it, super, but it doesn't make or break the film if you miss it, either.
It's got all the right elements for your average 8-year-old, so if you have one, bring 'em along: burping routines and a dog who farts, plenty of fire truck scene. If you're looking for clarity from an adult perspective, keep searching... the reality is, "Dog" isn't sure if it wants to be the father-son relationship film, the boy-dog friendship film, or an action film about arson and fire-starters. But it is a solid 33% of each, so if you're not looking for any one focus to at least have a passing grade, no worries.
Being a firefighter geek, the scenes themselves weren't horrible. Unlike some films, they at least wore the stuff correctly, even if they lacked a few of the details. The reality that any fire company that is the nearest station to fires and the last one on scene (and after others have dropped hose, put up ladders and started putting out the fires) would need far more than their Union to save them. But, in Hollywood-land, second rate can do the trick, providing they make a joke or two on the way to the fire.
Good enough for the kids, a passable amount of flashing lights and fire trucks for the fire geeks (a hodge-podge of old Internationals with the far more modern rigs in the background). This isn't going to rate up there with "The Godfather," bt it also won't sink to be the next "Gigli" or "Stomp the Yard," either.