California, three years after 9/11, Ned Chipley (Michael Angarano) is determined to end terrorism by joining the Marines. Unfortunately for Ned, his limited capabilities prevent him from enlisting and he is sent on his way to protect the home front by Sergeants too afraid to tell the truth. In an attempt to prevent a seemingly real terrorist, Ned meets Tally (Melissa Benoist), an equally naïve and sweet girl.
A somewhat strange idea on paper, Sun Dogs is a charming story that highlights the immense talent of its writers, cast and debut Director, Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time). It is mostly a slow burn, akin to movies such as Being There and Lars and the Real Girl, which Morrison has credited as inspiration. It is the complexity and simplicity of the characters and story that drives it until the end. It takes a great Writer and Director to show not tell. Sun Dogs never attempts to spell out its message for you, rather it guides you along the journey.
That message is one with many different facets, all increasingly relevant in today’s day and age. Most obviously, the film dissects the impact of terrorism on modern day America. Chipley dedicates his whole life to stopping terrorism, whilst others change the direction of their lives to accommodate for new fears. On a deeper level, the film pulls apart our sense of identity and purpose as individuals. Should we pursue “the ultimate dream” till the day we die or do we adapt in order to survive this crazy world? All important questions, all are asked within the film.
The cast is full of wonderful actors who have proven themselves time and time again. Allison Janney (I, Tonya, The West Wing), Michael Angarano (Almost Famous, Will & Grace) and Ed O’Neill (Modern Family) need no mention beyond they are in it and they are as extraordinary as ever. It is two nerdy favourites that really capture your attention throughout the film, Melissa Benoist and Jennifer Morrison.
Benoist truly proves herself as an actor with range well beyond Supergirl in this film. She is certainly not Kara Danvers and she deserves accolade for her performance. Morrison on the other hand is hardly in the film. All of maybe two minutes. However, her vision and touch are evident in every scene as the Director of the film. If this is the start of her directing career, expect big things to come.
Sun Dogs is not particularly funny nor is it particularly dramatic. It is a story about the real issues we face as society. It is the story of finding purpose and identity when everything and everyone is working against you. It highlights how sometimes saving lives isn’t as heroic as we like to think. It is the story about how sometimes saving lives is as simple as saying hello. It is a story well worth watching.
Sun Dogs is available to watch now on Netflix.
Article by Jackie Jeanette
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