This ex Army Ranger with PTSD struggles to live day-by-day. He wants to return to duty, but after we learn he took too many hard blows to the head, getting another tour is difficult. After learning one of the team passed because of similar issues, the trauma isn’t over. But he has a second chance if he can bring Lulu, a dog, to Riley, her first owner’s funeral. Flying her over isn’t an option. Instead, it’s a trip from Washington State to Nogales, Arizona.
This road trip does more to help the man out. This female Belgian Malinois can appear frightening when in attack mode, but when a person knows how to bond with it, she’ll be as adorable as an Irish Terrier instead of a warrior bred to fight.
And this man certainly needs companionship. He separated from his wife some years ago, and they had a child. This subplot doesn’t get a lot of exposition to reveal what happened. It’s easy to figure out, and see his regrets.
However, the canine has her own problems. When considering all the photos shown of her and Riley in the opening credit sequence, all the emotional depth is in the fore. Her own trauma from not being with him to the very end shows how PTSD can affect animals too. The exposition on how others returning from war are dealing is across the board. It’s a nicely added dark undertone within this comedy because it shows there’s no easy way to deal. But when two troubled minds get together, perhaps there’s hope.
Although the humour is subtle, the sympathy is more prominent when Lulu and Briggs help each other out in their darkest hour. Fortunately for the canine, she hasn’t forgotten her former master; she’s turned into a well-behaved puppy when she realises he is gone.
This film is Tatum’s most personal work to date; not only did he contribute ideas to the screenplay by long time writing partner Reid Carolin (with additional credit to Brett Rodriguez), but also directed. He put a lot of effort into showing what the healing process can be like after how he lost his own beloved pet from cancer in 2018, and it shows. The story about the kinship one has for another is a terrific note to end by, and this film triumphantly sets up Tatum’s return. Next up is The Lost City, where he plays a model (a natural for him) who wants to be an adventurer.
4 Stars out of 5