“Think Like A Dog” Reminds Us The Key To A Happy Life Is Simple

by Sarah Scoop

Apparently, dogs have always known what humans too often forget – the key to a happy life is simply love. There’s a lot to love about this movie, including the adorable pup who runs the show. Henry, voiced by Todd Stashwick, provides a simple, yet profound look at existence. And if the uplifting story isn’t enough to make you smile…everybody loves a dog with a human name.

Bonus scoop: Check out our interview with “Think Like A Dog” actress Julia Jones on The Sarah Scoop Show.

Madison Horcher (“Sophie”, Left) and Gabriel Bateman (“Oliver”, Right) in THINK LIKE A DOG
Madison Horcher (“Sophie”, Left) and Gabriel Bateman (“Oliver”, Right) in THINK LIKE A DOG

Note: The following review contains spoilers.

Oliver (Gabriel Bateman) is just like every other 12-year-old kid. He loves his dog, he wants his family to stay together, though the future of his parents’ marriage is looking a bit uncertain, and he desperately wants his crush to go with him to the school dance. His circumstances may seem ordinary, however, his brain is anything but. Oliver’s extraordinary intelligence and desire to invent is represented by his tricked out room full of inventions to make his dog’s life easier.

Henry, the loyal pup, has a bark-powered doggy door and a motion-sensor food dispenser in the works. Henry is sure that his human/best friend is the best person on the planet. The only thing that could possibly be better is if they could communicate telepathically.

About The Movie

“His circumstances may seem ordinary, yet his brain is anything but.”

The story starts on the day of the school science fair, which coincidentally neither of Oliver’s parents can attend. Oliver is a naturally perceptive kid who sees the guilt-ridden face worn by his mother (Megan Fox) and the confused look of his father (Josh Duhamel) who is eating his daily slice of cold pizza, so he assures his parents that their absence from the event is no big deal. However, the invention he has created and the mishaps to follow will change the course of the film and the young protagonist’s life forever. What happens when you amplify the sound of a brainwave and put that amplifier securely on the head of your family dog? You learn exactly what’s going on in that furry noggin.

Megan Fox comforts Gabriel Bateman in Think Like a Dog
Gabriel Bateman (“Oliver”, Left), Megan Fox (“Ellen”, Right) in THINK LIKE A DOG

The film’s duo, Oliver and Henry, portrayed the ‘man’s best friend’ trope incredibly well. For his first time on screen, Gabriel Batemen was impressive in every way. He laughed, he cried, and he even had to look straight into the camera as if he was talking to his furry best friend directly- all of which he did quite well, especially for a newcomer to the world of acting. He may be a newcomer to the world of acting, but I have a feeling we will be seeing much more of him.

Though there are many praises to be given to this sweet and funny film, there were other times of storyline confusion and jump cuts that made things a bit hard to follow.

Overcoming Life’s Struggles

“He laughed, he cried, and he even had to look straight into the camera as if he was talking to his furry best friend directly- all of which he did quite well, especially for a newcomer to the world of acting.”

There are a lot of moving parts to this story. Between genius Mr. Mills and his elusive intentions, the federal agents trying to find out who hacked into a supposedly impenetrable system, Oliver’s friend troubles both online and IRL, his emotional struggle with his parent’s crumbling marriage, a dog who could put a voice to his thoughts, and finally, the impending school dance with Sophie (Madison Horcher), there was A LOT happening. At times, it was downright impossible to keep up with. If the audience struggled to make sense of the mess, no wonder Oliver was barely managing to balance it all.

Think Like a Dog
Gabriel Bateman (“Oliver”) in THINK LIKE A DOG

“Think Like A Dog” is premiering at a time when the movie-going experience is facing unprecedented hardship. However, the lack of new films coming out creates more space for individual movies’ successes, hopefully meaning a good opening for this heart-warming family film on June 9th, 2020. Though the preference of most movie lovers is the unmatched combination of movie theater recliners, buttery popcorn, and a massive screen, this movie seems perfect for the at-home viewing experience. From the movie’s focus on family to the way it was filmed-often through the eyes of the family’s dog- this story practically invites itself into our homes.

Lessons From Every Character

“From the movie’s focus on family to the way it was filmed-often through the eyes of the family’s dog- this story practically invites itself into our homes.”

It was fun to see beloved comedic actor, Kunal Nayaar, playing the role of *spoiler alert* the bad guy. Mr. Mills, the genius that Oliver cannot wait to impress at the beginning of the film, is not exactly what he seems. While Oliver wants nothing more than to work alongside a scientist, Mr. Mills doesn’t appear interested in sharing the credit for Oliver’s innovations.

Think Like a Dog
Kunal Nayyar (“Mr. Mills”, Left) and Gabriel Bateman (“Oliver”, Right) in THINK LIKE A DOG

There was no condescension present about a middle schooler’s experience and what a young person has to offer the world right now (something that rarely happens in films). There were no “if’s, and’s, or but’s” about the intelligence of Oliver and his friend Xiao who invented, innovated, and hacked. They were incredibly smart, smarter even than most of the adults in the film, and nobody ever underestimated them.

They had a meaningful friendship that developed online and didn’t end badly. Kids even spoke up about their disdain for the education system, for goodness sake! They listened to one another. Bullies saw the error of their ways, crushes and young love did not face belittlement, and intellectual abilities were not questioned, but rather celebrated. In this film, tweens felt a full range of emotions, without anyone ever telling them that what they felt was wrong. It was kind of awesome. They understood the way they should treat one another, the way they should be treated, and the complicated emotions of dealing with parents who might be separating.

You Will Laugh, Smile & Enjoy The Movie

“Bullies saw the error of their ways, crushes and young love did not face belittlement, and intellectual abilities were not questioned, but rather celebrated… It was kind of awesome.”

Kids and parents alike will be laughing along with this movie. It is filled with classic physical humor and plenty of jokes catered to a young audience. Just like any good family film, there are jokes that appropriately go over kids’ heads and provide an inside joke with the adults. However, with it’s PG rating, we were honestly surprised by the number of times suggestive phrases such as ‘grow a pair’ appeared throughout the film. Of course, since a dog narrates the movie there were plenty of butt-sniffing jokes as well. Overall, drama and humor wove together naturally among the four different storylines that came together to carry the uplifting themes in this film.

Actors Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, and Gabriel Bateman hugging in scene from "Think Like A Dog"
Photo Credit: “Think Like a Dog” Film

In the end, it’s all about family. Job offers, petty arguments, growing apart, and fear of rejection too often keep us from living lives of long-lasting happiness. Apparently it is all about love, sacrifice, middle school dances, kisses on cheeks, and saying you’re sorry. When it all falls apart, it’s about hugging your dog too. If only Henry had told us sooner!

A Heartfelt Message

“Apparently it is all about love, sacrifice, middle school dances, kisses on cheeks, and saying you’re sorry. If only Henry had told us sooner!”

Just like we always suspected, the family dog has our best interest in mind and will be the most loyal friend we could ever have. Perhaps if the whole world started thinking like a dog–selfless, loving, joyful–contentment might be easier to come by. All we know is that this movie will leave you and your family with warm hearts, leftover giggles, and unanswered questions for your own pup!

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