Sweeney Young and Cassie Cole are perfectly fine in writer/director Lachlan Ryan's family-friendly short film Dog Date Afternoon, but there's very little doubt that there's one seriously furry superstar in the making by the name of Scout who steals the show in this Australian film making its world premiere during the 2020 Indy Shorts International Film Festival going on virtually and at Tibbs Drive-In all this week from Indianapolis.
The word adorable doesn't begin to cover just how wonderfully feel-good this short film is, but it's a good place to start in describing this story of a germaphobe (Sweeney Young) trying to win the girl of his dreams (Cassie Cole).
The only problem? He has to go through the most important loved one in her life - her dog.
He might learn that a dog really is man's best friend. More likely, he'll learn that a dog betrayed can be man's worst enemy.
Dog Date Afternoon is a delight from beginning to end, a perfectly cast short with spot-on performances by Sweeney Young and Cassie Cole and, well, did I mention there's this incredible dog?
I mean. Seriously. Scout is wonderful. Filled with personality and curiosity and charisma galore, Scout gives the film more than a few "aw shucks" moments and you'll find yourself falling in love with this wonderful pooch.
Okay, back to the humans.
They're awesome, too. Sweeney Young hits all the right notes without ever becoming a caricature. His character's arc is subtle yet honest, a little bit "the guy you love to hate" but ultimately endearing.
On the flip side, Cassie Cole takes what could have easily been a one-note role and adds a lot of heart, a little humor, and a quiet moment in a bathroom that's almost an aside but played pitch-perfect. Seriously.
Back to Scout.
Throughout it all, Scout's a winner. I'm not sure I ever expected to describe a dog's performance as intuitive, but this Scout plays perfectly off of Cassie and their relationship is so believable that your heartstrings will definitely be tugged.
Original music by Thomas E. Rouch is warm and bright, while D.P. Joel Famularo's lensing is reminiscent of the absolute best of family cinema. Kudos to writer/director Lachlan Ryan for a beautifully spirited short film for the entire family that will please dog lovers and everyone else.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic