I want to tell you a little about the movie itself so I will try not to spoil the movie too much.
We start Life with Dog with a pretty harrowing accident scene. Not too long after we meet Joe Bigler (played by Corbin Bernsen whom you will recognize from other TV shows like L.A. Law and Psych) we realize that he is grieving the unexpected loss of his wife of 43 years from a hit and run.
Joe's wife, Alice (played by Marilu Henner, most notably recognized from the TV show Taxi) was a 'woman of faith' as is their adult daughter Zoey (played by Chelsey Crisp, a regular on Fresh off the Boat). Joe on the other hand calls himself a doubter, especially after trying to put his trust in the Lord on two major occasions. When those occasions did not end as he had hoped or 'prayed for' he decided to never try to put his hope in God again.
We watch as Joe struggles with his grief because he believes that the accident was a plan to have him leave his house to be bought up by the construction company building condos across the street. He really believes that realtors, bankers, and even the construction company are all scheming together to get him out. This parnoia leads Joe down a path of destruction. As he is barely getting through the days a mangy mutt wanders into his yard as he's watering his wife's rose garden. Joe begins to befriend the mutt, called simply Dog, and in doing so allows his heart to soften. However, things change as Dog leads Joe down a path where the doubts about how his wife died are revealed.
That is all I am going to tell you ... so that you can watch the movie and enjoy it for yourself. I will say there are some slightly violent scenes you may want to be aware of before you begin. Joe has a bit of a temper and you see it flare in his interactions with a few people and asaults them. He also waves a gun around and threatens two different people. There is also mention of the use of the phrase 'f-bomb' several times, which thankfully none of my children seemed to catch. I was a bit taken back when I heard it spoken.
The use of these scenes I think were to give a glimpse into this broken man who is trying to come to terms with his wife's death without the mercy and faith that we as Christians have in our Lord. Joe is trying to work it out on his own and by doing so makes some questionable choices which could be severly detrimental. Thankfully, these unsavory scenes are short. The themes of why does bad things happen to good people as well as whether there is a God at all overshadow the violent scenes so you don't dwell on them as well.
For me personally, I did not enjoy the ending. It didn't resolve. Not that it needs to be wrapped in a pretty package for the end, but I feel that the main character, Joe, had been travelling on this journey, but never had that 'aha' moment with the Lord where he truly reaches out to God and gives his life to HIS SAVIOR. Also toward the end when Joe finds out who was responsible for the tragedy that had wrecked him (trying not to give the story away too much), the young man introduced really has no resolution to his part in the story. This actually was upsetting to my 13 year old daughter.
My children also did not like the ending because they did not feel they found out what happened to Joe and Dog, or any of the minor characters. They did however like the overall story. My eldest felt it was a little scary at times and wasn't the best movie for families with smaller or younger children.
Since we watched it as a family I also wanted to ask my husband to share his thoughts. "It was interesting. I did feel like the Christian influence was a bit forced in certain parts of the movie. So it could have been the same movie without the mention of Jesus or God, which made the faith and hope that we have in Christ seem unnecessary."
All in all I would recommend Life with Dog to others as long as I gave them the few caveats I have mentioned above (no clear discovery of the love and faith of God as well as some unsuitable scenes for younger children). I think I would rate this a 3.5 out of 5. Although I really do like the genuine performance of Corbin Bernsen and the quality of the film as a whole.
I also want to mention that though this film is distributed by Mill Creek Entertainment not all of their products are Christian. They offer many films across a variety of genres. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I would also encourage you to read what other of the Crew members thought about this movie by clicking the link below! And if you do watch the movie, let me know in the comments your thoughts!!