REVIEW: Red Dog: True Blue

December 3, 2016

Review, Theatrical, This Week 9 Comments

"A classic boy-and-his-dog tale, Red Dog: True Blue has a big heart and bundles of charm…"

REVIEW: Red Dog: True Blue

Erin Free
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Director: Kriv Stenders

Levi Miller, Bryan Brown, Jason Isaacs, Hanna Mangan Lawrence

Distributor: Roadshow
Released: December 26
Running Time: 89 minutes
Worth: $17.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

A classic boy-and-his-dog tale, Red Dog: True Blue has a big heart and bundles of charm…

Australian family films are rare, and Australian sequels even more so, which makes Red Dog: True Blue an absolute cinematic stand-alone. Originality aside, it’s also a solid reference point on how to craft a follow-up, retaining the feel and mood of its predecessor, but offering something fresh in the story department. 2011’s Red Dog was a true movie bolter, coming out of nowhere to trample the box office and race into the hearts of Australian audiences. Its mix of broad humour, moving sentiment, and bravura visuals marked an impressive move into the mainstream for director, Kriv Stenders, who had made a name for himself with brilliantly grim indies like Boxing Day, Blacktown, and Lucky Country. Stenders’ natural audacity infused Red Dog with an indefinable raucousness, which he thankfully also brings to Red Dog: True Blue.

The sequel begins with a wait-a-sec-what’s-happening-here meta flourish as harried businessman, Michael Carter (Brit import, Jason Isaacs, doing a top notch Aussie accent), takes his two young sons to the movies…to see Red Dog! After the screening, Michael reveals to his young son that he was actually the first owner of the pooch that would eventually become famous for uniting the disparate residents of a WA mining town. The film then unfolds in flashback, as we meet young Michael (Pan’s charming talent on the rise, Levi Miller), who is shipped off to the remote farm of his grandfather (Bryan Brown in a wonderfully taciturn but deeply sensitive turn) when his father dies and his mother suffers a nervous breakdown. There, he learns about Aboriginal customs and land rights through indigenous farm-hand, Taylor Pete (the engaging Calen Tassone); romance through his comely tutor, Betty (the lovely Hanna Mangan Lawrence); and the rigours of male competitiveness through macho helicopter pilot, Stemple (the charismatic Thomas Cocquerel). But mainly, Michael learns about the joys of companionship that a canine like Red Dog (originally called Blue) can bring.

With its pre-adolescent hero and near plotless coming of age narrative, Red Dog: True Blue instantly announces itself as a more distinctly family friendly affair than its predecessor, but it’s still loose and freewheeling in the best way possible, jumping from plot point to plot point at will, and continuing with its surprising meta-fictional push, with John Jarratt dropping in for an amusing cameo as a very famous Australian figure, complete with winking gags. In any other film, such narrative playfulness would feel odd, but here, it just adds to the film’s colourful individuality. Coupled with a hard-edged sweetness and lots of humour, it makes for a winning mix. A classic boy-and-his-dog tale, Red Dog: True Blue has a big heart and bundles of charm…just like its eponymous canine hero.



  1. Linda Morse-Robertson

    When can we get to see this in the US? I am a Kelpie lover AND owner for over 30 years now. LOVED “Red Dog” with Josh Lucas, bought it, and so want to see this one as well!

  2. Rachel Quarrell

    So sorry you found Red Dog True Blue disappointing.The whole idea of the film was to show you what happened to Red Dog before it went on his famous journey looking for his owner.I saw an advance screening of it on December 18 and loved it.

  3. Antonia

    I really liked & enjoyed it a lot; something all ages & stages of life worth going to see; both those who’ve already seen the 1st 1; & those who haven’t!

  4. Troy D

    Really? Don’t even bother – the reviewer must have seen another film. The first Red Dog was wonderful. This by comparison is a poorly crafted, labourious affair, with little plot, humour, or anything else for that matter…

  5. helen richardson

    I was expecting less as the first one was soo good To my surprised I enjoyed it as much as the original Red Dog. Absolutely loved them both. Can easily watch it over and over again as I did with the first one.

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