A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dog Days is an ensemble comedy about people in L.A. whose lives are intertwined and improved by dogs (it's very reminiscent of Garry Marshall's holiday-themed movies like Mother's Day). It's been marketed as a family film, but some of the content isn't appropriate for younger kids, including gratuitous strong language ("a--hole," "damn," and punchlines that imply the use of "s--t," even though it's not exactly said) and a pot brownie plot point that's played for laughs, with no negative consequences. Some of the storylines are sweet, such as a new family being formed through adoption and the development of an intergenerational, interracial friendship. Several stories involve dating and romance; be ready for innuendo, implied sexual situations, and discussion about reproduction. And while the film is full of smiles, there may be some sad sobs, too, since (spoiler alert!) a dog dies. But the pro-pup message is very strong, and the diverse cast (including Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Finn Wolfhard, Jessica St. Clair, and Adam Pally) has broad appeal.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DOG DAYS is an ensemble dramedy about a group of people in Los Angeles whose lives become intertwined thanks to their dogs. Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) is a morning TV host with a cheating boyfriend, Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) is a barista trying to pick a career path, Tyler (Finn Wolfhard) is a pizza delivery boy whose regular customer is a grumpy old man (Ron Cephas Jones), Eva Longoria and Rob Corddry play first-time adoptive parents, and Dax (Adam Pally) is a musician whose irresponsibility is affecting both his personal and professional life. As each character tries to figure out the next step in their lives, the dogs help the humans forge important new relationships.
Is it any good?
This doggy comedy's concept and message are full of paws-ibility, but the film doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a Disney-esque family dramedy, as its filming style and marketing campaign suggest? Or is it an edgier comedy for 20-somethings, as its drug, sex, and profanity jokes might imply? Dog Days' execution isn't helped by multiple plotlines that have the predictability and depth of an episode of The Love Boat. The script's one-dimensional characters deprive the actors of much substance, but the newer faces in the ensemble are the real delights. Comedian Tone Bell as a former athlete turned broadcaster, Jessica Lowe as a snarky makeup artist, and Lauren Lapkus as a dog walker who loves the job perks are stand-outs. And just as he does in This Is Us, Jones proves he could read the phone book and make viewers cry.
But while the animals may be what moves the humans' stories forward, the pups themselves are sidelined, mostly providing reaction shots. It’s really not about them -- which could be fine, if all the marketing didn't imply that they were the stars and that the film was more like The Secret Life of Pets than Must Love Dogs.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the various ways teamwork is demonstrated in Dog Days. What's accomplished in each storyline through teamwork?
A teen shows compassion for a man who lost his dog, even though they personally don't get along. Is liking someone necessary to help them out? Could you do something nice for someone you think hasn't been nice to you?
Do you have a pet? If so, how does your pet make your life better -- or does it? If not, how do you think your life would be different if you had a pet?
- In theaters: August 8, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: November 20, 2018
- Cast: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally
- Director: Ken Marino
- Studio: LD Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: rude and suggestive content, and for language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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