By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
The humble dog movie is a genre rivaled perhaps only by Madea movies and Nazi Olympic documentaries in its ignominy. Seriously, any genre that produces horseshit like A Dog’s Purpose is the pits.
Funny how even the most conservative folks get awful metaphysical when the topic of dead pets comes up.
Megan Leavey at first appears to be just that kind of movie, as it tells the of course true story of a fuckup (Kate Mara) who joins the Marines and finds purpose in training (and developing a deep bond with) a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd, Rex. It’s after getting back from Iraq, though, when the drama really begins.
This film, and first-time fiction director Gabriela Cowperthwaite (of the could not be more different Blackfish), are smarter than that tagline, though. This isn’t a dog movie, but rather a character drama, and Cowperthwaite and Mara find some real emotion in Mara’s coming home and how she and Rex alike are affected by the inevitable PTSD that results when you, well, get blown up. Leavey’s real campaign to adopt her former combat partner is impactful when you consider how much her and her canine sacrificed.
The procedural elements of man and dog alike training for such a unique role are fascinating for the time they’re on screen, and Mara really is excellent, maybe because she’s the only person who can say “Fuck” like a normal person.
Speaking of that, this is the kind of “gritty” story where the film opens on how salty Leavey’s mother is by showing her say “Crap” and “Goddamn” in a conversation. Yep, can’t jeopardize that PG-13 rating. There’s a slightly braver, more realistic feeling film buried in here, but instead we get the sanitized Hollywood version, in which people signify leaving their old lives behind by traveling cross-country with no luggage.
You brought your phone, but where’s the charger!?
This film might have been brought to you by the YES Network. Roughly 50% of the often clunky script is awkwardly inserted Yankees talk, when it’s not showing game footage or, in the end, Yankee stadium. Fuck the Yankees.
Megan Leavey is a workmanlike, but overall effective enough paean to a messed up young soldier and her unbreakable bond with her bomb-sniffing dog.
Megan Leavey (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for bad wordplay
Take a Drink: for explosives
Take a Drink: whenever a dog freaks out
Take a Drink: Yankees
Do a Shot: for the Starter Dog