Red Dog: Australia’s Biggest Crowd-Loving Canine Hug Comes to Netflix

Red Dog's Koko is likely to steal your heart with her

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Red Dog’s Koko is likely to steal your heart with her “pedigree” performance in this Forrest Gump-meets-The Littlest Hobo tale that’s tinged with tragedy.

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Red Dog (M, 92mins) Directed by Kriv Stenders ***

“Away where the rain doesn’t fall, I got a job in the oil drilling company, just to make some change, live and work on the land.”

It’s perhaps no surprise that, like fellow ’70s Australian staples Eagle Rock and Stumblin’ In, the Dingoes’ 1973 song figures prominently in this ‘dusty’ little Australian fighter’s tale of devotion and doggy style.

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Red Dog is now available to stream on Netflix.

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After all, this crowd-pleasing true story takes place in one of the most westerly points of ‘lucky country’: Dampier, Western Australia. Home to the Mermaid Motor Hotel, Hamersley Iron and immigrant workers from around the world, in 1971 it was rougher, hotter, brighter and redder than today, and a lonely town where men were men (even if they dreamed of a place late at night knitting), one did not work without a cap, and dogs of a certain type could do well.

Wandering through this area came Red Dog, a crossbreed of kelpie and cattle dogs. He is said to have taught the townspeople independence, a generous heart and friendship, which earned him membership in the Dampier Salts Sports and Social Club and Transport Union and a Bank account. But while some claim he saved their lives or helped them find true love, there were those who would have preferred to see him from behind, or worse.

Despite an overabundance of walking socks, Stubbies and Jockey Y-fronts, and a few very gritty special effects, Red Dog still has plenty of Ocker charm.

Provided

Despite an overabundance of walking socks, Stubbies and Jockey Y-fronts, and a few very gritty special effects, Red Dog still has plenty of Ocker charm.

A huge hit in its native Australia when it was initially released in 2011, Red Dog is a small-town, big-country movie that aspires to be the next Muriel or Priscilla, but feels more like a throwback to Crocodile Dundee. or (shudder) Kangaroo Jack. It’s mainly because of the presence of Hollywood star Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama).

It just seems wrong that the key character is made into an American (he’s part Maori in the Louis de Bernieres book he’s adapted from and who would be a much more troubled character in real life) just to sell tickets to the States -United.

Other stereotypes and archetypes abound, from the talkative Italian immigrant to the humorless, cat-loving caravan park owners and the funnier-than-white Australian outback girl.

Despite that, an overabundance of walking socks, Stubbies and Jockey Y-fronts, and some truly stunning special effects, Red Dog still has plenty of Ocker charm, thanks to an eclectic cast of character actors, including a mustachioed Noah Taylor ( Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and the late Bill Hunter (Muriel’s Wedding) in his final performance. Also watch out for our very own Keisha Castle-Hughes as the vet in a scene-stealing cameo.

Then there’s Koko the dog, who is likely to steal more than one heart with her “pedigree” performance in that Forrest Gump meets The Littlest Hobo tale that’s tinged with tragedy (think Greyfriars Bobby, rather than Lassie when it comes to his exploits)

Red Dog is now available to stream on Netflix.


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