By Michael McNulty

For those trying to sex up Philip John’s debut feature, Moon Dogs, comparisons will be made to Alfonso Cuarón’s sexy, impulsive road movie, Y Tu Mama Tambien.  This would be a stretch at best.

Moon Dogs, backed by Scottish, Irish and Welsh film boards, centres on two teenage stepbrother’s Michael (Jack Parry-Jones) and Thor (Christy O’Donnell), who live off the coast of northern Scotland on the Shetland islands.  The two share a strained relationship.  Michael plans to leave for university in Glasgow with his girlfriend Suzy, whilst aspiring musician Thor, spends most of his time locked away in his bedroom making music.

After events lead to Michael missing an all-important final exam, he loses out on his chance of escaping his family and the Shetlands and heading to university.  With Suzy slowly slipping through his fingers as she settles into her first semester, Michael takes it upon himself to hit the road, with Thor tagging along, in an attempt to win her back.

A pit stop at a wedding gig, to help generate some much needed funds, results in the pair meeting plucky Irish waitress, Caitlin (Tara Lee).  Now, with Caitlin in toe, the three make for the mainland, embarking on a journey of coming of age exploits and self-discovery.

This is a one dimensional film that’s tonally confused and with a plot that predictably plods along.  All the characters lack depth and conviction and Thor’s motivation for the trip is not given the attention it deserves to develop the correct sympathetic reaction.

But, what’s most disappointing is the way in which Caitlin’s character is handled.  Her sexuality is reduced to a tool, functioning at first to pit the brothers against one another and then to bring them together.  Although her actions are thinly veiled under the guise of a play by my own rules, carefree attitude, it feels like Caitlin has been painted to fulfil the role of a teenage boy’s sexual fantasy.

A disappointing first film that misses the mark and doesn’t make full use of the talent it has to hand.

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