I think it was about time for a new dog hero movie. I don’t mean a movie where dogs wear clothes and talk. I mean an Old Yeller style movie. When I first heard about Max, I hoped it would be that movie I had been looking for. On the other hand, when I saw the many awful trailers for this film, they seemed to point in another direction.
Max, written and directed by Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans), is about an MWD (military working dog) who’s handler is killed in action. Max is sent back to the states where he proves to be dangerously unruly. Running out of options, the military sends Max to live with his formers master’s family.
I didn’t hate the screenplay for this movie but I did hate the pacing of it. It seemed like too much time was spent on things that really didn’t matter and the important things seemed rushed through. I would have liked to have seen more time spent establishing the relationship between Max and his marine handler. Likewise, the bulk of Max’s training after he went to live with the family took place in all of about three minutes or less. There was an adequate amount of time spent on the bonding of Max with his new master and I can’t really think of anything that absolutely needed to be cut from the film. I wouldn’t have minded if it had been a little bit longer and been paced a little better.
The bulk of the second half of this movie is at once well written and unnecessary. There was a main subplot in this film that didn’t really seem to belong, but the story is written well enough that it kind of makes sense so it is hard to fault the movie for it. The characters are all very well drawn and realistic feeling. The acting is adequate to good and the dialogue is okay, but a tad cheesy at times.
Make no mistake about it, the dog is the star of this show. That is as it should be. People are going to come out to see the dog. As I said earlier, I have personally been waiting for an Old Yeller style dog hero and I am pleased to say that Max fits the bill. Carlos the dog does a terrific job playing Max and Yakin does a good job of keeping him the focus of the film as the story goes off in all directions. He is heroic and tough as nails, while managing to stay sympathetic at the same time. I enjoyed watching Max work in this film.
The ending of the film is almost perfect. There is one small aspect that I wish they had taken a little farther than they were obviously willing to, but that was a relatively small thing. This ending provided some very nice payoffs and everybody came out of it exactly as they should have. This was really a very well-written screenplay, all things considered.
I actually enjoyed Max quite a bit more than I expected to. I could say it was a better movie than it has any business being but I don’t think that is fair. While the screenplay has some problems, the majority of it is so well written that it makes up for them. Really good relatable characters and an awesome dog can go a long way. Max is a good family friendly film and provides just the dog hero that we have been needing. The Movie Man give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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