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Comedy explores the human-dog connection

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Adam Pally stars as ‘Dax’ with ‘Charlie' the labradoodle. ( Elevation Pictures photo)

On July 29, the TIFF Bell Lighthbox was filled with tail-wagging canines and their human counterparts for the Canadian screen premiere of Dog Days, a romantic summer comedy that opened everywhere last Friday.

Directed by actor/director Ken Marino (How to Be a Latin Lover) and produced by Mickey Liddell (The Miracle Season, Jackie, The Zookeeper’s Wife,) LD Entertainment, the film hosts an all-star cast, including Nina Dobrev, Eva Longoria, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Tig Notaro, Jon Bass, Finn Wolfhard and Ron Cephas Jones.

For centuries, dogs have been coined as “man’s best friend,”offering loyalty, affection, and a soft place to lean on. The theme of this warm and charming feel-good movie is the undeniable and unbreakable bond between people and their dogs.

Dog Days takes place in Los Angeles and introduces the audience to interconnected people coping with careers, friendships, family dilemmas and dating adventures – all of which intertwine with their four-legged friends.

The film weaves different stories together mirroring everyday relationships.

Elizabeth is a newscaster settling into single life seeking advice from her dog therapist Danielle; Tara a spunky barista dreams of life beyond the coffee shop with her crush veterinarian, Dr. Mike. Other story lines include a lovelorn dog walker; a dog adoption business trying to stay afloat; soon-to-be-parents-to-twins trusting their labradoodle to a (resistant) family member. There is a heartfelt portrayal of a family awaiting the arrival of their adopted daughter who blossoms when she meets a runaway pug. Lives converge when an elderly widower loses that beloved pug, and the neighbourhood pizza delivery boy befriends him to help search for his pet.

Dog Days worked with some 50 “background dogs”for various scenes in the film. The “performer dogs” were cared for and matched to their characters’ personality and range.

The star canines include Charlie, the labradoodle that Ruth asks her brother Dax to take in despite his building’s no-pet policy. Mabel is Walter’s pug who gets lost and found by the Chapmans, whose adopted daughter falls in love with the willful dog. Sam the mutt has abandonment issues, something to which his owner Elizabeth can relate after her break-up. Brandy is Jimmy’s pet, but as he and Elizabeth go through dating ups-and-downs, so do their pets. And Gertrude, a stray chihuahua becomes Tara’s best friend after they meet by the dumpster outside the coffee shop.

“This movie showcases incidents where you can see how much love a dog brings into a person’s life. Dogs bring total unequivocal joy. Dog Days is like the film Love Actually without the dogs,” said actor Adam Pally.

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Pally is an actor, writer, executive producer, comedian, (Dirty Grandpa, Happy Endings, The Mindy Project) husband and father of three young children together with a family pooch named Knish. He told The CJN he traces his comedic beginnings back to Hebrew school.

“Some of my first experiences in comedy were making people laugh in Hebrew school, pushing the limits and seeing how I can command a room. That is where I drew a lot of my experiences from.”

Pally’s character Dax is described as a man-child with no responsibilities.

“He is in a band and struggling, so a dog is the furthest thing from his mind. Although Dax was hesitant to take on the responsibility of taking care of Charlie, they develop a special bond,” said Pally.

What drew Pally to the film?

“Working with [director] Ken Marino was a dream come true. He is one of my comedic heroes from his time on The State. He was super influential to me –I got lucky,” said Pally.

“I feel the expression ‘love makes the world go ‘round’ should really be changed to ‘dogs make the world go ‘round’! This film is all about the fact that everyone needs love, no matter who you are, or what you do—everyone craves love, and the companionship of an animal provides that,” said actress Nina Dobrev