Review: In ‘Dog Days,’ Finding Each Other Through Canine Fandom

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The comedy director Garry Marshall died in 2016, but his spirit, or a portion thereof, lives on in “Dog Days.” In the final years of Marshall’s career he made several ensemble-cast romantic comedies, each centered on an ostensibly beloved holiday. This very similar ensemble-cast romantic comedy has its characters gathering around their love of dogs, rather than the calendar.

But who doesn’t love dogs? One character isn’t crazy to have a canine in his life. That’s Dax (Adam Pally), a feckless musician compelled by his pregnant sister (Jessica St. Clair) to dog-sit her mutt, Charlie, which proves to be a challenge since his apartment building doesn’t allow dogs. Living in the same building is Tara (Vanessa Hudgens), a barista who loves pups by proxy, volunteering at an adoption service. Garrett (Jon Bass), the nerdy owner of that service, adores Tara, but the object of his affection has her eye on a hunky vet (Michael Cassidy).

You get the idea. Now multiply storylines by about four, add some barks, and sit. Then keep sitting. This is a movie in which a couple find love, and one of them is terrified that “the other shoe will drop.” At this point there’s a whole hour left in the movie. The shoe will drop but will not be fetched.

The cast is pleasant and attractive. And the director Ken Marino, whose career breakout was in the comedy troupe the State, drops in some funny absurdist touches, including a droll turn from Tig Notaro as a pet therapist and Phoebe Neidhardt as an oversharing TV weatherperson. But on the whole, this picture, which could just as well be titled “Dog, Actually,” is sweeter-than-average treacle.

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