In other news, I got to screen the new Warner Bros. military canine film MAX on Monday. I was invited to the San Diego premiere for a press and media screening to give a report on the feature— let me just say, I found myself laughing then crying throughout the film. My emotions were going up and down like the NYSE, and it was awesome!
To state the obvious, I was very engaged in the story of this film from when I first saw previews. I’ve always had a personal connection with military dogs which inspired me to cover stories on their work at San Diego’s Camp Pendleton Marine Base.
The story begins with a military dog ( a Belgian Malinois ) returning to the U.S. and dealing with the death of his handler, “Max”. Now with a changed perspective on life, the family of his now deceased handler adopts Max, and he becomes the responsibility of his at the time very stubborn and unhospitable handlers younger brother. There are several predicaments that unfold for Max and his new handler. Going into this movie you feel the feature has a light hearted feel of your typical family flick, but after just ten minutes into the film you believe this movie has a more profound message. The feature makes you look at the importance of the relationships we build and how we maintain them— not just with our dogs but with members of our family we have troubled relationships. The screen writer paints a picture in which the heart of a dog will truly be loyal to who it responds, not over night but rather with patience and trust. I felt like this movie was more in line with the reality many people face with new dogs they adopt, especially adult dogs– adjusting to a new relationship that has so much potential. I also believe this film details the power a dog can have on bringing families together. There were really 3 plots to this story; the reality of military working dogs, the powerful bond between human and handler, and the unconditional loyalty dogs have for their handlers. The entire film was magnificently made and the ending was wrapped up nicely. I don’t want to give away to many details because I really want you to see it— but one thing I will say is that it’s about time a film like this was made! Not only can a movie like this bring families together for entertainment but it also proves the greatness military dogs mean to our nation. It takes a vey unique bond between man and canine, not to mention many years of training to certify a real military dog. I hope this film encourages people to further honor the military men and women patiently working with these amazing animals who are working at the front lines of war. The dogs themselves have no choice nonetheless— from adolesence they are thrown into a world where anyday they could die a horrific death, in combat, sniffing out bombs at the sake for our nations freedom.
Since 2007, the Marines began a pilot program in Afghanistan with nine bomb-sniffing dogs, a number that has grown to 400 and is expected to reach nearly 700 by the end of the year. Over all, there are some 2,700 dogs on active duty in the American military. A decade ago, before the Sept. 11 attacks, there were 1,800. Within the military, the breeds of choice are generally the German shepherd and a Belgian shepherd, or Malinois, but Marines in Afghanistan rely on pure-bred Labrador retrievers because of the dogs’ good noses and nonaggressive, eager-to-please temperaments. Labs now accompany many Marine foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, wandering off-leash 100 yards or more in front as bomb detectors. It is the vital work of an expensively trained canine, with the cost to the American military can be as high as $40,000 per dog. Since then, sadly 350 dogs have died on active duty.
If you don’t already know the phenomenal skills military dogs acquire, this film will showcase it and you will walk away having all the more respect for these courageous four legged officers.
A big congrats to Warner Bros. for the launch of the film as I foresee it’s going to be a huge success!!! ‘MAX’ opens in theaters everywhere this Friday June 26th. I encourage everyone to see this incredibly touching film as I guarantee all will enjoy it from beginning to end.