• by Wes Singleton

Megan Leavey, B

Rated PG-13, 116 minutes

The new drama "Megan Leavey" is the familiar though heartfelt true story of a girl and a dog. When both girl and dog and in the military, it doesn't make life easier for either of them, especially when she wants to adopt him. If you know anything about the power of movies, you know that if it involves animals, senior citizens or babies, it will also involve tissues, which is the case for the low-key film, which has received little in terms of promotion, which is unfortunate since it's worth seeing.

When young Marine Cpl. Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) is assigned to clean up the K-9 unit after a disciplinary hearing, she identifies with a particularly aggressive dog, Rex, and is given the chance to train him. Megan and Rex complete more than 100 missions, but an IED explosion injures them and puts their fate in jeopardy.

The likable and uplifting "Megan Leavey" is directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite ("Blackfish") and co-written by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo ("Bridesmaids"), Tim Lovestedt and Jordan Roberts and is based on the true story of Leavey, who cameos in the film as a boot-camp sergeant. Love, loyalty and friendship between a girl and her dog are front and center in the touching film, which also provides a handful of tense bomb-sniffing scenes in Iraq.

On that note, it's not exactly revelatory, groundbreaking stuff, but it certainly knows how to pull the heartstrings, especially in the later chapters when Leavey and Sgt. Rex (as he was called), are finally reunited. It also has a solid performance and a meatier role for Mara ("The Martian") playing a real-life figure whose life was changed by her canine counterpart.

Leavey's real story is embellished with both military and civilian figures who weaved in and out her life, including a fellow K-9 colleague killed in action ("Harry Potter's" Tom Felton in a small part), her direct command, played by rapper Common, as well as her divorced parents, played by Emmy-winners Bradley Whitford and Edie Falco, along with a love interest (the handsome Ramon Rodriguez of "The Wire").

"Megan Leavey" alters many of the facts of Leavey's real story, and the complex process to adopt Rex is simplified heavily, but one thing it poignantly shows is the bond between two war heroes, a woman and her dog, and there's nothing wrong with that. Sincere and enjoyable, add it to your list of summer films to see.

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