Attempting to be a modern-day Lassie-style adventure of boy and dog bonding, Max is a film that hovers between sweetness and emotional manipulation. Which side your opinion falls under will probably come down to how much you like dogs, and this one in particular.
Max is a dog that belongs to Kyle, an active combatant in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed in a battle, Max is returned home to his family, and shell-shocked in his own right, only seems to be calm around Kyle’s younger brother, Justin (Wiggins). Justin initially rejects Max, but events bring them closer together, along with Justin’s local friends. The drama picks up again when Tyler (Kleintank) a shockingly obvious villain who’s villainy was noticeable in the trailer for this film, shows up again. Tyler was with Kyle when he died, and seems to know more about what happened than he let on.
This movie seems to play a lot from older media themes, such as adventures that young rapscallions and their animal mascot get up to, foiling crimes and the like. There’s also an obviously American angle with the focus on their military, but the plot is transferable enough to any circumstance. For me, I think I may well just be a bit too cynical to enjoy this film. I like dogs, but I always thought that Max was just waiting for the director to say Cut, so that he might be given a treat as a reward. The same might be true for Josh Wiggins, who didn’t exactly astound me.
The old Hollywood proverb was “never work with animals or children.” A film that does both should be commended, although with a predictable plot and not very good acting, what this one does rely on constantly is the fact that Max is quite a cute dog. A family film for animal lovers.