Tired of over-the-top, digitized special effects? Weary of wacko main characters, vulgar vocabularies, and gruesome violence? Meet MAX, the brave dog that beats the bad guys and mends a broken family. MAX isn’t “Mad,” isn’t a “Trainwreck,” nor is he “Furious,” though the villains in this film would like everyone to think so. MAX is a war hero who desperately needs a friend.
Sounds syrupy and predictable, right? Yes, it is, in all the right ways.
MAX, the story of an ex-war dog suffering from PTSD, and the grieving family of his late handler, is rated PG for mild profanity and violence. It is currently playing in theaters to yawning reviews and low numbers, which means it will go to DVD and probably Netflix sooner than later. Frankly, I’m OK with that, because it will make the film available to more families seeking wholesome entertainment on a budget. We need this kind of storytelling because it encourages the values we want to build in our kids and reminds parents of the things that really matter.
And the film is stuffed with those things: the sacrifices and service of our military, selfless loyalty, sacrificial friendship, racial bridge building, the power of honesty, and the importance of both parents in the lives of children.
MAX also deals honestly with the power of grief and the subtle slide into unintended consequences brought on by greed and pride. The best part of the film (spoiler alert) is when main human character, Justin, the younger brother of the dead Marine, faces a devil’s bargain. His illegal downloading and reselling of video games has put him in a compromising position with the local drug dealer. He must choose between the dog who loves him and exposure of his crime to his parents, not to mention the loss of income from his hacking. He succumbs, at first, to his darker nature, but is brought to repentance by two things: the humble honesty of his dad and the indomitable love of his dog.
God’s Word encourages us to fill our minds with things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. There’s a reason for that. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” The more we meditate on positive values, the more likely we are to imitate them and experience the peace; the Shalom of a godly life. Stories stick in our memories better than anything else, especially in the minds of children. MAX is the best kind of story because it is noble, pure, and praiseworthy. I encourage you to watch it with your family.