Starring Josh Wiggins, Thomas Haden Church, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham
The family film Max, not to be confused with Mad Max, is about as friendly as you can get without having a Lifetime or Disney logo branded on the poster. Directed by live action Disney alum Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans, Uptown Girls), Max paints itself as a story about military service animals, but that’s a bit of false advertising. The good intentions here are to pay tribute and raise awareness to animals who are trained to assist and protect the military, but Max can’t help itself by falling victim to another predictable domesticated crime adventure in the guise of a coming of age drama. What’s worse breakout star Josh Wiggins is playing the same character from Hellion.
Following the death of eldest son Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell), his furry combat companion Max mourns his owner at the funeral. Max has an instant connection with Kyle’s younger brother Justin (Wiggins), who after some stern looks from his father (Church), agrees to take care of the retired service dog. Max provides Justin with a sense of responsibility, cutting through a rebellious streak and trouble making phase. However when Kyle’s best friend Tyler (Luke Kleintank) returns to pay his respects, he blames Max for the death of the Wincott’s son, forcing Justin to stand up for the dog. Justin also stumbles into a serious situation involving Tyler and stolen military weapons, in which only he and Max can expose.
Max very quickly turns into the Disney channel movie of the week.
It’s true what the cast and crew said about Max, that we don’t see many films featuring military animals, and statistics proving their bravery and usefulness in war. Unfortunately this film doesn’t do much to counterbalance that void as only the first five minutes feature Max in Afghanistan. Max very quickly turns into the Disney channel movie of the week, as the bad and good guys are one sided, the dog tilts its head and provides the audience with the “aw” moments they paid for, while the suspense is about as thin as a sheet of paper. Of course Graham (Gilmore Girls) as the mom with a terrible Texan accent doesn’t help, not to mention Church’s bad mustache and phoned in performance.
Max has some seriously dumb moments that were so questionable, it jarred me right out of the halfhearted suspense. Justin makes money by pirating and ripping video games online, selling to local thugs. In one scene he’s given $200 to get a new video game…. Wait what! $200 for a video game, why not just buy a new copy at the store for the average price of $50? It gets worse, in one of the climactic scenes Justin and Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) send Carmen (Mia Xitlali) to bike to the nearby freeway and get help. Two second after she rides off, Chuy’s cell phone rings and he says, “Mom I can’t talk now”. Again, I say, What! It’s a shame the filmmakers selected a subject that could have been something courageous and unique, instead turning it into this horribly written, poorly paced, sappy melodrama.
Maxed out on stupidity, bad acting and a half brained script.