There are a lot of key elements that work to ensure a good movie. For instance, when A-list actors like Tom Cruise or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sign on to a movie, it is customary for the director to tailor the movie to work to the strengths of the actor. This is also the case when the key actors and actresses are of the canine variety, as in the hit Dog Days. Another key element that helps to make a movie a hit is an inspiration from which the story was created. As it turns out ‘Dog Days’ is the result of some great inspiration.
First of all, let’s examine the casting for this movie from a canine perspective. Being that this is a movie about dogs, the director, Ken Marino, decided to cast the dogs before casting their human counterparts, ensuring he could the type of dog-human chemistry that would make the movie a success. The scenes in this movie were penned based on the unique capabilities of the dogs that were cast in certain roles. Instead of challenging the dogs to meet certain scene demands, the scenes were built around the dogs.
This movie is about several dog lovers, played by Vanessa Hudgens, Eva Longoria, and Adam Pally, set in the heart of Los Angeles. So what inspired this movie? Was it some touching story about a real family somewhere? Actually, this movie was inspired by Marino’s creativity. There have been countless films that included animals in primary roles; however, all of those movies narrowed the personality of the animals to what viewers heard from their created thoughts. In other words, the movie audience could hear what the dogs were thinking. In Dog Days, the dogs play a vital role in the movie — even taking center stage — but the audience had to guess what the canines were thinking and how they felt at certain points in the movie.
Marino says that dogs are a part of the family, playing a central role in day to day activities, but hearing narratives of what the dogs are thinking at any given moment over-humanizes the dog and take them out of their natural element. People who deal with dogs on a regular basis do not have the luxury of someone constantly narrating what the dog is thinking at any given moment. This movie calls for the viewing audience to use their imagination much in the same way that they would have to do when dealing with dogs in real life.
There is some real-life inspiration here though. Marino has a passion for dogs. He married his wife Oyama in 2005, and the two have two children, Ruby, 8, and Riley, 11. They also have two dogs that they rescued, Maggie, a Chihuahua, and Dot, a mini pinscher. If anyone has ever had a mini pinscher, you know that alone is a handful. They are very hyper and mischievous. The Marinos, like so many other families in America, treat their dogs as members of the family. In essence, the dogs are characters in a scene that plays out daily, and Marino wanted to create a similar situation in Dog Days.
There is a scene, which turns out to be one of the funniest scenes in the movie in which a dog take an unbelievable time to choose a place in which to relieve itself. This scene was actually inspired by Ken’s late dog Gilda, a dachshund-corgi mix, who used to do the same thing. I cannot imagine the patience it requires to have a dog that takes that long to handle their business. People have places to go and people to see; however, it is almost certain that someone watching this movie can relate to the dilemma. Marino did an excellent job of creating authentic scenes and experiences in the movie that real pet owners would recognize and appreciate. I imagine that it can be challenging to work with dogs to do an entire movie, but according to Marino, these dogs were very well-trained and they consistently hit their marks with easy. There was still the need for flexibility throughout shooting the movie.
So, the inspiration was part creativity and part life experience. It all culminated in a fun and enjoyable experience for movie-goers to close out the summer movie season.