Movie Review: A lukewarm comedy for the “Dog Days” of summer cinema

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“Dog Days” is like a romantic comedy Garry Marshall didn’t get to make. He did the sappy “Valentine’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve” and “Mother’s Day.” But here’s actor turned director Ken Marino (“How to be a Latin Lover”) to get us through the summer with a large ensemble of lovers brought together, or keeping love alive, through dogs.

Like Marshall’s later films, it’s sentimental, ridiculously long and only occasionally funny. But an engaging cast — human and canine — give it, and us, almost enough warm-and-fuzzies to get by.

Nina Dobrev (of “Flatliners”) is the cute, wrapped-too-tight hostess of “Wake Up LA” who only loosens up when her wolfhound looking boy Sam falls for the pitbullish pet of ex-footballer turned co-host Jimmy (Tone Bell, flip and charming).

Dax (Adam Pally) is the irresponsible musician who learns to responsibility when he has to take care of his sister’s dog when she has twins.

Vanessa Hudgens plays Tara, the barista with the hots for Hot Vet (Michael Cassidy), who thinks her shot just improved when she takes in a dumpster chihuahua. The nerd running the local no-kill shelter (Jon Bass, funny) pines for her.

New adoptive parents (Eva Longoria and Rob Corddry) are having no luck at all getting through to their new little girl until they find a stray pug. Unfortunately, the lonely widower (Ron Cephas Jones, terrific) lost the dog, and his “punk” pizza delivery boy (Finn Wolfhard) is guiltily helping him look for her. 

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The dogs are here to get in the way, open hearts and facilitate the human coupling, all of which play out in exceedingly predictable ways.

The funniest scenes feature comic Tig Notaro as a deadpan doggie therapist whose “real” patient is the TV anchor — “Someone needs to get out there” isn’t really meant for your doggie, dearie.

Dobrev and Hudgens are lightly charming, Longoria plays concerned mom without a lot of spark (Corddry has nothing funny to say or do), Thomas Lennon plays the brother in law and new-twins-daddy and finds a laugh here and there.

But the script needed a LOT more, not more drug jokes or “phallic” gags (one of each, as this is a “family” film). Maybe lines like this one Pally utters at a whiny setter.

“There’d better be a boy in a well for you to be freaking out like this.”

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MPAA Rating: PG for rude and suggestive content, and for language

Cast: Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Eva Longoria, Ron Cephas Jones, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally, Tig Notaro, Thomas Lennon

Credits:Directed by Ken Marino, script by Erica Oyama, Elissa Matsueda. An LD Entertainment release.

Running time:

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