This potential crowd-pleaser under-delivers with its too-basic script and superficial treatment of deeper themes, particularly mental health. As always, Tatum, who also co-directed the feature with Reid Carolin, looks like he's having fun, even though Briggs is in both physical and emotional pain. But that pain isn't deeply explored, and neither are the mental health crises of the military community -- an issue that's introduced, but only in an expository way in a conversation late in the film. The movie firmly focuses on Briggs' relationship with Lulu, with a host of character actors in small supporting roles. Jane Adams and Magic Mike alum Kevin Nash stand out for their performances as Northern California hippies who grow pot, make edibles, and, in her case, connect psychically with animals. And Ethan Suplee pops up in the last act as a role model for Briggs, who can't seem to get Lulu to fully trust him.
On the flip side, Q'orianka Kilcher is wholly underused as Briggs' ex and the mother of his child. It's easy to imagine there's a lot more of her on the proverbial cutting room floor, because if Tatum and Carolin weren't going to give her character any lines, they could have hired a much lesser-known actress. Instead, in an unnecessarily long scene, the script devotes lots of time to two young tantra specialists who are eager to have a threesome with Briggs. At least there are a few laughs, and it's generally pleasant to watch characters interact with a highly trained dog, even a rambunctious and volatile one like Lulu. Thomas Newman's score is upbeat, and the cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel captures the welcoming road, the cluttered SUV, and the changing landscapes that Briggs and Lulu come across as they drive down the Pacific coast. But without a consistent tone, the movie doesn't come together in a meaningful way.