A dog lies critically ill in the back room of a bar as anxious locals gather round and reminisce about the highly individual pooch who mysteriously arrived in their lives ten years earlier. Inspired by a true story, this offbeat doggy tale follows the life and adventures of a stinky, footloose and fancy free red kelpie (an Australian breed of sheepdog) whose big personality and escapades create a bond among the unruly and lonely men in a small mining town in Western Australia. Everyone has a story about how the dog changed his life, but the dog’s own life changes when the one man he adopts as his true master (American Josh Lucas) goes missing and Red Dog’s epic search for him across the Outback becomes legend.
While many elements of every animal film are present (there are echoes of Greyfriars Bobby, The Incredible Journey, Lassie and all the rest) the canine hero is a great character and one of a kind. And the film changes tones entertainingly to suit the anecdote being told, whether it’s Red Dog’s crafty matchmaking, saving a life, or taking on the town’s infamously bad-tempered Red Cat in a showdown filmed like a spaghetti western.
Feisty, independent, generous, loyal, it’s no wonder the dog became enshrined in folklore. And only the Aussies seem capable of mixing hilarity, heartache and the heartwarming in a peculiarly endearing, eccentric, boisterous style. A box office smash in Australia, where the film also dominated the country’s film awards, with stunning Outback locations and a bonza bowwow who just won Hollywood’s Golden Collar for Best Dog in a Foreign Film, it’s a crowd pleaser, no worries!
Is Red Dog suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Dog and people experience loss and heartbreak, but physical violence is referred to, not shown. There’s a nailbiting near-miss shark attack, and a dead kangaroo can be seen on the road.
Arguably the scariest sight is hairy men in their budgie smugglers.