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:: Red Dog

Finally along comes a hero who might save Australia’s Film Industry by putting bums on seats and its not our darling Cate Blanchett, our stalwarts in Geoffrey Rush or Paul Hogan or even the new breed in the form of Joel Edgerton or Simon Baker… no it’s Koko the Kelpie. Koko is the star of new Australian family film, Red Dog. Now before you groan and think ‘oh no not another family film about a dog’, this is a family film with a difference. A family film made brilliant by the fact that it was made by one of the Australia’s best directors.

The story of ‘Red Dog’ is retold by Jack (Noah Taylor) to Tom (Luke Ford), a trucky who stops off in Dampier. As the stories flow Tom is told how ‘Red Dog’ has become a local hero as he changes the lives of the many people he meets including John (Josh Lucas), Nancy (Racheal Taylor), Vanno (Arthur Angel), Jocko (Rohan Nichol) and Peeto (John Batchelor).

There is a stigma around family films, normally they are dull and lifeless and any humour may appeal to a three-year-old but will not even get a giggle from adults, but that can’t be said for Red Dog. Anyone that has previously known Kriv Stenders' work will know that he is one of Australia’s most talented directors (Lucky Country is one of the most underrated movies of all times), and here he has taken the concept of a simple family film and made it a masterpiece.

Stenders manages to the use the natural beauty of Dampier and make this film a piece of cinematic beauty while the screenplay manages to make sure that the characters are all 3D with interesting pasts and emotion, while the humour actually works. Having said that though there are one or two moments where the films absurd nature will make you think “what the…”, but for the most part the film is an enjoyable experience that will attract the attention of both children and adults alike. So well written is this film that the emotion of it will catch up with any audience member at sometime and you will find yourself laughing (and at times crying) along with the characters.

The other amazing feat that Red Dog manages to do is use an American actor in a way that doesn’t seem forced or out-of-place. Josh Lucas is terrific in the role of John, while Rachael Taylor sends a clear message to Hollywood… she is perfect for a role in a romantic-comedy. Aside from Koko though the standouts here are John Batchelor and Rohan Nichol. Nichol brings real emotion to his role while Batchelor shows the rest of Australia what all Sea Patrol fans have known for quite a while now… he is a genuine talent that deserves more airtime.

Red Dog is a brilliant family film that deserves to have enormous success at the box office. Family films don’t get much better than this, so Mums and Dads everywhere make sure your family gets to see it.