Ever since I was very young, my Aunt has brought me to any and almost every movie that is dog related. It has been years since the last time we were able to see one, but thanks to “Max”, it was once again possible. Here are my thoughts on the first canine movie I’ve watched since “Marley & Me”… but first, here’s the trailer
Director: Boaz Yakin
Writers: Boaz Yakin, Sheldon Lettich
Stars: Thomas Haden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Robbie Amell, Lauren Graham, Mia Xitlali, Jay Hernandez
Opening Weekend: $12,155,254 (USA) (26 June 2015)
While I knew that the movie was about a Belgian Malinois who served in the marines with his handler, I had not seen any trailers, ads, posters etc so I did not know what to expect. The entire story changed for me after around the ten minute mark. I had expected to watch an entire movie set in a war zone- but as it shows in the trailer, Kyle, Max’s handler and also Justin’s brother, played by Robbie Amell, passes away.
We then see the funeral service, in which Max runs up to Kyle’s casket and this is where I cried my eyes out for the first time. Afterwards, we find out from Sergeant Reyes (played by Jay Hernandez,) that just like people, dogs can suffer from PTSD and Max is unable to cooperate with the other handlers. When the family hears that Max will therefore be put down, they adopt him instead.
Throughout the rest of the movie, we see Justin dealing with the responsibilities that come with being a (somewhat hesitant) new dog owner. The real drama all starts however, when Kyle’s best friend, Tyler (played by Luke Kleintank), comes home early from his tour. Max shows his disapproval right away but for everyone else, it takes a lot more for them to see beyond Tyler’s seemingly good motives.
This film brought me back to the days of watching “Air Bud” and “Shilloh” for the first time. Watching those movies now, of course I find them a tad cheesy but because of the love for dogs- I don’t care. There are moments throughout this movie that would make all of my movie loving fans annoyed. I am not saying this movie is perfect. In other words- I felt my age watching it. I now know how adults feel while watching movies teens beg them to watch.
I can see how they tried to relate to today’s youth- dirt biking, comic book references, teen romance, etc. I think it was that aspect that made the 111 minute long movie feel a bit longer than it was.
However, there were moments that definitely pulled on heart strings. Like I said, I was crying within the first ten minutes. I also cried about three other times throughout the movie. I have a soft spot for any animal- especially dogs. There were scenes where it showed the love between dog & handler, owner, friend, whatever you want to label it with- and it was touching.
The actors did an okay job. I’ve been a fan of Lauren Graham ever since Gilmore Girls and Bad Santa but I don’t think she pulled off the accent too well. She did pretty well at showing emotion- but still nothing to write home about. As for the Father, played by Thomas Haden Church- he did his typical acting where all I could think of was how I wished he was as funny as he was in Easy A but had skill like in Sideways. It was nice to hear his voice and see him on the big screen again but as I said before, the movie had quite the “pre-teen” vibe to it.
I am very glad I watched it (I even watched it for the second time as soon as I got home) but I don’t think I would spend money watching it in the theatre again. It’s a must see for all dog lovers and there are a few funny lines that had the whole theatre laughing. It a movie that portrays the true importance of honesty, loyalty and what being a hero is all about.
Honestly, Max is such a gorgeous dog, I wouldn’t be able to tell someone NOT to watch it. I did have to watch a ton of other dog movies once I came home though- I think I may be obsessed with puppies…. don’t tell my cat.