Tissue (box) alert! In the new movie “DOG,” a troubled military dog named Lulu travels with Army Ranger Briggs (Channing Tatum) to the funeral of her former handler, who also happened to be Briggs’ former commander.
But could it be that you’ll need all those tissues because you’re laughing so hard, you’re crying? “Dog” is described as a “buddy comedy.” Plenty of wacky misadventures befall the pair on their road trip, and hilarity ensues. Huh.
A not-as-surprising surprise about “DOG” is that Lulu is actually played by three different Belgian Malinois: Britta, Lana 5 and Zuza. The dogs were obtained from an Amsterdam facility that trains military dogs rather than from a rescue, unfortunately. It’s too bad some production companies don’t follow Bill Berloni’s lead and instead find their animal actors from shelters and rescue organizations (and then find them forever homes!). It’s so disappointing when filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino obtain dogs from breeders when homeless four-legged thespians are so widely available.
The really good news is that after the filming of “DOG” was completed, there was a triple happy ending: All three Lulu portrayers were adopted into loving homes. Those homes happen to belong to the three trainers who worked with Britta, Lana 5 and Zuza. It helped that the COVID pandemic shutdown occurred while the film was in production, giving the dog trainers nine extra months to further bond with their trainees.
“They’re such high-energy, aggressive dogs that they each got assigned to a trainer, and the trainers all said at the very beginning, ‘There’s no way we’re taking these dogs home, so we have to figure out when the movie’s over what we’re going to do, who we’re going to adopt them out to,’” Reid Carolin, who co-directed “DOG” with Tatum, told MovieMaker. “It’s a real cool, happy ending for each of the dogs, and they’re best friends with their trainers.”
Britta, who appears the most often in “DOG,” now lives with her trainer in Montana. Carolin told MovieMaker Britta was calm, with a very expressive face.
Lana 5, who plays Lulu when she gets belly rubs and is carried on Tatum’s shoulders, is living with her trainer in South Carolina. Zuza, who plays Lulu when she’s being aggressive — although Zuza is really simply high energy and goofy, Carolin told MovieMaker — now lives with her trainer in California.
Lulu is played by three dogs instead of one because of the character’s various personality traits, Carolin explained.
“So when you’re doing a movie that requires this much nuance in the performance of a dog, you don’t want to ask a dog to go outside of their natural temperament for a couple of reasons,” he told MovieMaker. “One, it’s just not good for time and being on a movie set and all the practical reasons, and two, it’s not good for the dog.”
If a movie about a troubled military dog rings a bell, you might be thinking about “Max,” a 2015 tearjerker about a Belgian Malinois military dog traumatized by the death of his handler in Afghanistan.
“DOG,” rated PG-13, is now playing only in theaters. Here’s the official trailer.