Red Dog: True Blue: Film Review
Cast: Jason Isaacs, Levi Miller
Director: Kriv Stenders
Five years ago, a truly Aussie shaggy dog story took the family box office by storm.
Red Dog, complete with its canine star and capturing of the ocker Aussie sensibility, managed to reel in audiences of animal lovers and family film lovers apiece with its tale of a dog uniting a township and getting to the heart of what it means to be an Aussie.
So, some five years later, it's no surprise that a sequel, nay a prequel that meshes the story within a story ethos is being dispatched on the family summertime box office as an antidote for the end of the year cynicism that hits.
Wrapped up in nostalgia, this is the story of Blue, the Kelpie, and Mick (Miller in flashbacks and Isaacs in current day, a father who's become work-obsessed and forgotten how to have fun). Sent to his grandfather's station in the Outback due to his mother being locked in a hospital, Mick struggles to find his place. But when a puppy literally falls from the sky after a cyclone hits, Mick's friendship with his dog grows.
However, when a girl called Betty (Hanna Mangan Lawrence) ends up at the station, upending all the boys' lives, Mick finds his own coming of age arriving quicker than expected.
Swathed in nostalgia and Aussie characters, Red Dog True Blue may lack the heart and emotional connection of the first film as it pursues its one boy and his dog's adventures ethos into Saturday matinee territory.
Complete with some truly stunning countryside shots from the Pilbara deserts, Red Dog True Blue is in many ways an old school film that's blessed by solid performances. Brown, as the grandfather, is the gruff heart of proceedings and generates more warmth and empathy than you'd expect - and Miller's solid, if unspectacular, as the young Mick struggling to avoid being upstaged by the dog.
With an episodic feel, some spiritual leanings thrown in and some bush fires for drama, this tale of love and coming of age down on the farm may lack some of the first's immediate charm, but there's no doubting it'll find a younger family audience to embrace, thanks to the antics of Blue.
It may not be a memorable family film in the way the first set hearts and box office alight, but Red Dog True Blue's warmth and fuzziness may prove to be the ideal antidote for those seeking a feelgood flick to start 2017 off with.