Moon Dogs Review
Teenage step-brothers Michael (Jack Perry-Jones) and Thor (Christy O’Donnell) live at home with their parents, although you’d be far pushed to say they are full of brotherly love for each other. Michael is on the cusp of heading off to University, but messes up his final exam, and Thor locks himself away for days on end in his bedroom crafting obscure Neofolk rumblings. They head off to Glasgow to see Michael’s girlfriend, Sara, and are joined along the way by the single-minded spirit of Caitlin (Tara Lee), an aspiring singer who transforms the journey into a life changing experience for the step-brothers.
Director Philip John, who has spent much of his career working on TV shows such as New Tricks and Downtown Abbey, makes his first foray into cinema with a film that starts with promise only to dissipate once we get to the core of the story. Much of the fault lies in the script, which leaves the characters underdeveloped and isolated inside clichés and predictability. The relatively inexperienced cast do well to make the most of the material they have been given and their natural, youthful energy does at least provide fleeting moments of dimension.
The arrival of Caitlin into the lives of Michael and Thor is the catalyst for their own personal development. Despite Tara Lee’s best efforts, Caitlin's distant and amoral view of the world leaves her as little more than a sexual tool for the boys. Because she instigates all of their intimate encounters, male writers, Derek Boyle and Raymond Friel, no doubt see it as a statement of strength and confidence, yet aside from her sexual experience and impeccable singing voice, she may as well be a fantasy girl dreamt up by the brothers to spice up their trek across Scotland. How Caitlin joins the two step-brothers, her reasons for doing so and her non-existent past are all woefully under-represented within the script.
Jack Perry-Jones' exasperated complaints manage to raise a two smile on occasion, but as with Caitlin, his reasons for embarking on the journey are built upon shaky ground and his shallow personality doesn’t encourage you to remain engaged in his plight. Thor’s superior musical ability is mentioned in the promotional material surrounding the film and you’d be hard pressed to find out where his genius has absconded to, given how rarely he is given the chance to demonstrate it. There are signs that his relationship with his father back home in the Shetlands is in tatters, although we never know why and the less said about the eye-rolling encounter with his absent mother the better. All in all, Moon Dogs is a sore disappointment, and aside from potentially being a springboard for a decent cast, it is a wholly forgettable attempt at a coming-of-age story.