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Moon Dogs - Review

Moon Dogs

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

A BRITISH road movie that’s clearly inspired by American counterparts such as Road Trip and Sex Drive, Philip John’s Moon Dogs is overly generic and lacking in likeable characters.

Working from a script co-written by Derek Boyle and Raymond Friel, the duo responsible for the forgettable 2004 Orlando Bloom starrer The Calcium Kid (as well as 2007’s Botched), John attempts to mine laughs from hopelessly contrived situations while expecting us to like characters who are way too self-absorbed to be anywhere near as quirky or endearing as they’re intended to be.

Step brothers Michael (Jack Parry Jones) and Thor (Christy O’Donnell) hail from the Scottish isle of Shetland and have little in common. But they decided to hit the road to Glasgow together when Michael becomes suspicious that his girlfriend (Kate Bracken) is cheating.

This, in turn, affords the more internal Thor the chance to meet and confront the mother (Shauna Macdonald) who walked out on him when he was a baby.

An already complicated relationship is strained still further when the duo are joined by Irish waitress Caitlin (Tara Lee), with both brothers inevitably falling for her carefree, rebellious charm.

The ensuing road trip involves a gate-crashed wedding in Orkney, impromptu gigs in desperate bids to raise money and skirmishes with a couple of shady characters they meet along the way, with yet more obvious coming-of-age rites-of-passage thrown in for good measure.

But while some scenarios do succeed in raising the odd smirk by virtue of just how cringe-worthy they are, others just feel added for the sake of tradition.

John, who has developed a strong reputation for his TV work on hit shows such as Being Human, Downton Abbey and Outlander, here finds himself constrained by the wholly uninspired nature of the screenplay, both in terms of what it asks of its characters and how they are presented.

Parry Jones, in particular, is far too whiny to convince he is worth rooting for, while O’Donnell is just too strange and silent, making the tug-of-love between them and the far more spirited Lee relatively redundant.

The predictably clichéd last act confrontations and ‘finding oneself’ moments struggle to land the feel-good rush they were seeking, largely because the journey to get there lacks any emotional investment.

John does manage to imbue his film with some nice location work and includes a decent soundtrack, at least ensuring it has a look and feel of its own. But in all other respects, Moon Dogs has little to recommend it.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 90mins
UK Release Date: September 1, 2017