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‘Max’ Reviews: Critics Say Dog Movie Barks up the Wrong Tree

Reviewers knock Warner Bros. film for being hokey and overly sentimental

Critics across the country are absolutely rabid about their dislike for Warner Bros. dog tale “Max.”

The movie follows a boy (Josh Wiggins) who adopts dog that his dead brother (Robbie Amell) trained for the military. It currently has a 41 percent rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie also stars Thomas Haden Church, Lauren Graham and Jay Hernandez. It is being taken to task by reviewers for being hokey and overly sentimental, while also trying to shoehorn in a subplot about gun running that doesn’t seem to fit in with the kid-friendly fare.

Inkoo Kang wrote in her review for TheWrap:

“Despite a great, unaffected performance by Wiggins — the only one among the cast — and the primal joy of seeing the dog actors sprinting, leaping and maybe even emoting, the film is sunk because the characters never transcend their seeming origins in a Disney Channel movie project.”

Susan Wloszczyna of RogerEbert.com wrote:

“But matters go astray midway through when too much time is spent on a far-fetched subplot about a gang of Mexican arms dealers that obtains its contraband weapons from a corrupt American soldier. Lassie and her child companions often got into some dicey scrapes, but as much as I can recall, they usually didn’t result in much of a body count.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club wrote:

“Like some toxic-sludge mutant grown in the racks of a mom-and-pop video store, Max crosses alarmist plotting with canine hijinks and hamfisted family drama that would feel at home in the era of the white clamshell VHS case. It is dull and weird — weird in that way that it is pronounced we-ee-eird, the stretched vowel signaling a weirdness that is probably unconscious on the part of the filmmakers.”

Joe Neumaier of The New York Daily News wrote:

“Putting aside whether it’s decent to send dogs to precheck dangerous terrain, ‘Max’ is a clunky flag-waver that fails its major missions. It’s not a successful tear-jerker about an angry dog rehabilitated. It’s not a good kids flick, since the level of violence — off the battlefield — is excessive. (In the desert, that violence is serious but morally sure.) And the movie’s fatally distracted by its B-movie villains.”

Jim Judy of ScreenIt wrote:

“It’s well intentioned, touches upon a rarely discussed issue involving animals, and the scene where the dog rushes to his former master’s flag-draped coffin had me tearing up. The rest of the film? Not even remotely. Would I have felt differently watching this through the young eyes of my old Lassie days? Perhaps, but as seen through these adult peepers that have witnessed plenty of boy and his dog stories, this one is far from the cat’s meow.”

Norman Wilner of Now Toronto wrote:

“‘Max’ makes ‘American Sniper’ look like a complex, nuanced portrait of American patriotism. It’s shameless, one-dimensional “entertainment” aimed straight at heartland audiences primed to applaud the flag, support the troops and cross the street when they see someone swarthy.”