Just as emotionally manipulative as the 2011 original Red Dog but less successful in its execution, Red Dog: True Blue looks to merely survive on a superficial level as the “aww shucks” cuteness of the titular canine appears to be the sole reasoning behind this sequel/prequel hybrid coming to fruition.
The stunning harsh red dirt of the Australian outback makes for an attractive asset, as does the presence of a stern but likeable Bryan Brown, culminating in True Blue earning some mild success points throughout its unchallenging journey. It’s a contrived film that never feels remotely believable but I dare suggest that’s the intention, and it’s likely to reel in the families this holiday season seeking a film that asks for very little of them.
Starting off in 2011 where the film references its own predecessor by having faux-lead Michael (English actor Jason Isaacs successfully executing an Australian accent) take his two young children to a screening of Red Dog, True Blue reverts back to the 1960’s where a young Michael, then known as Mick (Levi Miller), reminisces on a particular moment of his childhood where the outback and all it encompassed became the only existence he knew.
Shipped off to live with his grandfather (Brown) following an incident with his mother, Mick is a fish out of water in the remote region of Pilbara in Western Australia. Lonely and with no one his own age to relate to, the discovery of a lost pup – whom he dubs Blue – proves salvation for the youngster amongst a period in his youth where the mythical ways of the land and the heartbreak of first love occupy his time.
Much of the humour is pre-empted and there’s nothing subtle about the performances involved – Miller is particularly unnatural in his delivery – but given that the original film ran its course to be one of the top 10 highest grossing Australian films of all time it would appear that True Blue is hoping to emulate the same result by recycling the formula.
I can’t fault the film on a visual level, Geoffrey Hall‘s cinematography is quite stellar, and I imagine fans of the original will respond positively enough to True Blue, but this is hardly a necessary excursion. There’s nothing presented here that shakes up a story we are already familiar with, leaving Red Dog‘s continuation as yet another underwhelming sequel for 2016.
Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)