RED DOG is already a phenomenon: both in Australian Box Office, but also in critical circles, and perhaps most revealingly, in terms of WOM (Word of Mouth): I personally have never seen a film so lauded on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Outside of its (obvious) filmmaking virtuosity, I offer Ten Reasons We Love Red Dog:
1) It’s About The Dog.
Unlike psudo Dog Movies like MARLEY AND ME, RED DOG is about The Dog. The romance between the two humans who have a romance is incidental. The Dog is the object of affection, for his Master, his Master’s Girlfriend, and the Entire Pilberra. While we visit all of the humans’ live, we see the entirety of what is known of Red Dog’s life.
2) We like the American Import.
Josh Lucas plays his role with humility. Frankly, he plays second fiddle to Koko / RED DOG (see item 1). We like him for that; we like him for the fact that we don’t really know who he is (so he doesn’t seem like casting for money’s sake) and we like him because, well… he’s just so damned likable. No reason to have anyone else in the role, no matter what the nationality.
While the movie pretends that miners in the Pilberra didn’t swear like ******* troupers, it acknowledges that they drank like ******* miners. We quickly get over the (clever) way “swearing” is avoided, but if the film had suggested they didn’t drink, we would not have possibly believed anything about these men.
RED DOG is a true story… according to legend. The way it’s told feels as authentic as a story told, re-told and re-told again… after a few beers (see item 3).
We’ve seen the soldiers and the shearers, the horsemen and the hell-raisers, the cops and the criminals. But we all know that modern Australia’s economy was and is built on the back of the mines and the miners. RED DOG acknowledges them, lovingly.
6) We like dogs more than cats.
Risky move, making a cat the major villain of the film? Not according to RED DOG’s outstanding box office. We’ll see how it does in Britain.
We love our movies colourful. The fact that “Red Dog” is red may seem incidental to the huge success of the movie, but the overwhelming colour of the advertising campaign, the cinematography and Red Dog himself taps into a sense of colour that has allowed films such as STRICTLY BALLROOM, MURIAL’S WEDDING and CROCODILE DUNDEE be some of our most successful. We like our colours big and bold, and “red” is one of the biggest and boldest.
8) It’s kind of different.
For all its adherence to the tropes of a Dog Movie, there’s a whole lot of idiosyncratic elements in RED DOG, from its plotting (including the character arcs of some of the major humans) through to its visual storytelling and down to the isolated, intimate moments that fill out its story. What this adds up to is this: if someone says to someone “Mate, I don’t need to see another Dog Movie”, the other person can say “Well, this one is different”.
There’s none. There is emotional truth, and there are things that may (will!) make you cry, but there is nothing in the film to suggest the common (misconceived, but common) complaint that “Australian films are just too dark”. Likewise, there are no graffiti-filled alleyways, heroin use or prostitution (not that any of these are bad things to have in movies: they’re just not in RED DOG).
10) Joy. Heart. Love.
See items 1-7. There is so much joy, heart and love in this film that you kind of need to see it three times to catch them all. And they’re really all caught up in the magic smile Josh Lucas brings, when he looks at Red Dog (played by Koko, who deserves his own number). So:
Enough said. Because, really, it’s all about Koko.