Well, you wait decades for a film about military dogs with PTSD, and two come along in a month. But while Dog’s cutesy poster concealed a rather adult view of soldier and dog as a couple of filthy animals, Dakota is a much more wholesome proposition. So don’t look for much edge in this new film from Kirk Harris, who previously helmed Bernie the Dolphin, but there is a market for family-friendly films and if you can handle the withering assessment of low professional standards in the Georgia police department, Dakota delivers the dog-friendly sentiments required.
Somehow Abbie Cornish from profane chat-fests Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards is the lead in this; it’s certainly a change of direction from Martin McDonough’s flinty dialogue. Cornish plays Kate, a single mom who lost her husband Clay when he signed up for the US army and died in Afghanistan. Kate and her daughter Alex (Lola Sultan) live in a small-town in Georgia where they seem to have inherited the job of maintaining a fire service. They barely have any money, but still welcome Clay’s friend (Tim Rozon) when he delivers the traumatised ex-service dog Dakota back to the household.
That’s not enough plot for one movie, so we throw in Patrick Muldoon as a crooked copper called Danforth who discovers that Kate’s homestead in built on land rich with diamonds and tries to con her out of it. And a Baldwin always adds something, so step forward William Baldwin as a gold-loving grandfather with a few physical ailments, allowing for a hospital scene.
If it sounds hokey, it is, but that’s what a film like this aims to do; it’s agreeably old-fashioned, and whether you’re a dog-lover, or just enjoy wholesome family entertainment, Dakota hits the right spot for canine appreciation. It’s simple, inoffensive fare for those who feel that movies are getting out of control; while not as prescient as Dog, it’s a home-spun, sunny alternative that’s far more friendly for kids, and that’s a genuine selling point in 2022.
Dakota is in US theaters April 1st and on digital May 20th 2022 and the same date in the UK from Universal Pictures.