DogMan (2023)

Rated 15
Rented on Amazon Prime
Spoiler Free

Apparently hearing the #MeToo movement marching up to his doorstep, Luc Besson figured making a(nother) film with a sexy young female actor as its main character/eye candy might not be the best career, or financing, move. What is his solution with crime thriller DogMan? You guessed it,Caleb Landry Jones! And dogs! Lot of dogs. Like The Matrix but with dogs not guns. But also some guns. I have lost track of where I’m going with this chain of thought.

Caleb Landry Jones is a fine actor, and he’s always played supporting characters very well. As lead in DogMan he’s Douglas, a man whose Bible basher bastard father bullies him into a dog pen as punishment while a child. It's a bravura, show stealing performance. Landry is delightfully unhinged as Douglas, a man whose “children” are all dogs and who has made his living as an unbelievable (but totally enjoyable) local antihero.

Aided by a weirdly open psychiatrist, seemingly only there for exposition, Douglas decants his dog tales of using his troupe of four legged renegades for vengeance, VENGEANCE I TELL YOU. His weepy, wispy voice and painted pale face, makes him stand out; part peculiar vigilante, part recovering abuse victim and all kinds of crazy fun. I was taken by Landry Jones’ performance, he’s imposing physically and in every way, even bedraggled and in makeup.

It isn’t hard to spot that there's not just echoes of Joker, it’s as if Caleb submitted this as an audition tape a bit late for all of the many Batman films lately. I’d call it unimaginative but it’s not, he’s great. Besson throws in a Joan of Arc nod, which I’d call self indulgent but I’m prone to self reference too and I’m not famous. I’m a hypocrite, but I’m an honest one.

Yes, DogMan is silly, borderline comedy ridiculous, but it’s a dogs (and nutter) versus the world tale and I’m on board with it all. Colourful and weird becomes colourful weird and queer and is better for it. This nutcase avenger and his magical dogs ticks all the boxes, even dropping Edith Piaf in the soundtrack. Yes there’s a lot of suspension of belief but DogMan is an adult Ace Ventura; lights, camera, canines, crazy. No regrets.

“You’re insane”

“Thank you.”

Bedsit it?

A colourful, squeaky treat for dog lovers and those who don’t mind a silly caper. While DogMan’s roots are really felt, the rest of it is a one man and countless canine show. I loved it. But then I love dogs. D’ ya like dags? 7/10

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