It’s always nice to find Christian movies that I can watch with my kids for a family movie night. Our latest review item was a film from Mill Creek Entertainment called Life With Dog. I watched it with 2 of my sons, aged 12 and 7, the other day while we had someone over repairing some damage around our windows. We did have to pause a few times so the volume of the movie wouldn’t directly compete with the sound of power tools, but we used those moments to take a restroom break and also to discuss what had happened so far in the story of the movie.
“Life With Dog” is essentially a story about how lead character Joe Bigler (played by Corbin Bersen) works through his grief following the death of his beloved wife, Alice (played by Marilu Henner).
Warning: There are a lot of spoilers below. You’ve been warned!
The movie begins with a scene where you see the aftermath of the fatal accident that took Alice’s life, and as the movie goes on, you learn more about the circumstances surrounding it. You see why Joe carries around a mound of guilt, but also anger. He seems to always be on the lookout for someone to blame and is honestly a bit paranoid about it. There is a lot of suspicion and ranting that happen throughout many scenes and directed at many different characters in the story.
You see Joe go from cool and laid back to angry and confrontational with various folks that really didn’t mean him any harm. It really does seem that a character like Joe truly would react this way, because his wife seemed to balance him out when she was alive, and now he’s out on his own and is troubled with restraining his own emotions. Everything seems to set him off.
As you keep watching the film, you realize that his daughter Zoey, played by Chelsey Crisp, is also grieving for her mother, but in a very different way. She is a single mother with a son to keep her grounded, but, more importantly, a strong faith in God to help her to see the bigger picture.
Another sad part of this story was finding out that the family had lost Zoey’s brother at some point in the past as well. This family has been through so much, and Joe seems hopeless. His life ceases to function normally. Zoey’s living her life with some optimism and faith, and is incredibly concerned about the path her father is headed down with his tendency to fly off the handle and to accuse anyone and everyone of killing his mother.
Something that did disappoint me a bit about the movie was the lack of depth of character and interaction with the actual dog in the movie (which Joe called Dog). Dog was a stray who came to live with Joe, and seemed to be there to provide a sounding board for Joe to rant and rave to in his time of desperation. However, the pooch really didn’t display any kind of personality and didn’t even bark or whine or do much, until the end, when he led Joe to a huge discovery. I thought the movie would be focused way more on the animal due to the name of the film, but was sad to find that it really wasn’t.
My kids and I thought that maybe Dog represented the spirit of Joe’s wife, but that theory wouldn’t really work since many scenes actually showed Joe having conversations with his wife in the present, meaning that she represented herself.
The ending wasn’t satisfying for me, because I felt like we had just spent a lot of time walking through this journey with Joe, and there were so many loose ends that didn’t feel like they were explained. That said, the ending, as well as the extra scene after the credits began, did show that Joe eventually reached a place in his grief journey where he was no longer hurting so much and his emotions were no longer so raw and volatile. He finally seemed to have some peace and was able to be a family again with his daughter and grandson.
The film was released today at Walmart stores, or you can purchase your DVD copy of “Life With Dog” online (affiliate link). Inside the DVD was a code for instant access to a digital copy of the movie. This is something that I love because my youngest is still really rough on DVDs and I get so annoyed when we can’t play our DVDs anymore because they lost in a battle against superhero toys and etchings from pens.
Overall, we did like the movie. I enjoyed having a clean film to watch with the kids. They were surprisingly engaged considering this was not animated. We all left the room kind of scratching our heads about the ending, but it was a well-acted film with a great cast. My 14 year old was disappointed that we watched it without her, so we may watch it again soon with her.