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“Dog Gone” on Netflix — Movie Review

In the movie “Dog Gone,” Rob Lowe plays a businessman who goes with his son to look for a lost dog on the Appalachian Trail.

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At one point, he says that what he does best is make “predictive assumptions.” It doesn’t take much skill to guess how this movie will go. It is based on the true story of John Marshall and his son, Fielding (Johnny Berchtold). The plot centers around the two reconciling to find a beloved pet.

It is easy to predict that the film will have some sweet dog-bonding montages set to indie music, human and canine health crises, and tender moments of connection. A bit of comedy, photos of the filmmakers hugging their own dogs over the end credits, and some happy tears.

The movie is based on a book of the same name by journalist Pauls Toutonghi.

Marshall’s son-in-law and Fielding’s brother-in-law, Toutonghi is also a journalist. Nick Santora’s screenplay skillfully smooths out the story. Director Stephen Herek has a good handle on the tone. Emily Bear wrote a great score, and cinematographer Michael Martinez makes the most of the beautiful Georgia scenery.

Fielding is a senior in college when he decides to go to the pound to heal a broken heart. There, he meets a beautiful cream-colored puppy he names Gonker and falls in love with him right away. They have a great school year together. Until the day before graduation when Fielding realizes everyone else in his class has a good job lined up and he is still trying to figure out what he can do.

Fielding moves back home after missing his graduation because he and Gonker slept in too late.

John is clear, focused, and professional, but he can sometimes be sarcastic. When Fielding shows up after the ceremony, he says, “I’m sure it’s worth the six-hour round trip just to see 4,000 strangers dressed in the same outfit.” He tells Fielding that he doesn’t have the time or responsibility for a pet. When Fielding insists, John tries to put a shock collar on Gonker to keep him from leaving their property.

Fielding likes to do yoga and wander around in nature. He wears shorts and a necklace made of shells. He says no when his father offers to help him find a job. When he hears his father talk about how different they are, it breaks his heart. “I always knew he was upset with me, but he seemed embarrassed this time,” he says. In the meantime, he keeps quiet about some troubling symptoms.

On the Appalachian Trail, Fielding and his best friend Nate (played by “A.P. Bio’s” endearingly witty Nick Peine), let Gonker run after a fox, and the three of them get separated. John stops what he’s doing and says they’ll find Gonker and bring him home. Ginny, Fielding’s mother (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), sets up a command center at the house with fax machines and phone books (“I’m analog!” she says), flyers, and one of those maps with red yarn connecting the different places.

She puts up a “hero list” of all the people who are helping to boost morale. The search is even more critical because Gonker needs medicine for Addison’s disease in only 19 days.

As cute as the scenes between the people and the dogs are, the movie is really about the people they meet along the way. Ginny wants to help find Gonker so she can get over the pain of losing her Akita when she was a child. For John and Fielding, it’s a way to find out what they can teach each other and what they have in common, partly by meeting people along the way. They get help from people they wouldn’t normally meet, like a man at a gas station who sells them a statue of the patron saint of lost souls.

Dog Gone is now streaming on Netflix.