Based on true events, how can one kick Rescued by Ruby when it clearly feels aimed at the age 4-10 bracket? My main interest in this saccharine doggie flick was thanks to lead star Grant Gustin, whose career I have been following for quite some time. Most people will probably recognize Gustin’s charismatic grin as the titular character in CW’s The Flash, or from his turn as sassy villain Sebastian in FOX’s Glee. Whatever the case, Gustin channels a different kind of energy here as naive-but-determined Dan. I am not sure what the direction was regarding accents, but nearly every actor (Gustin included) is doing something wonky with his or her voice. Brace yourself for an inspirational drama where you can predict what will happen next several minutes before it occurs.
Dan has been a Rhode Island state trooper for awhile now, but his dream has always been to work for the K-9 unit. As he is 29 and the cutoff is age 30, Dan is desperate to get into that canine academy no matter what it takes. An early scene in which Dan “pulls over” a kid on one of those baby bikes and asks for a license and registration made me think I was probably not the target audience here. Ruby is stuck at the pound, and owners always return her due to a rambunctious attitude. They cannot keep “unadoptable dogs,” so just as Ruby is due to be put down for good, a curiosity of chance causes her to end up in Dan’s care.
I am sure a decent chunk of this really happened, but it feels questionable that Dan would be in need of a “young good-sized dog who’s curious and agile with spirit” and most importantly “costs nothing” just at the exact day she was due for her eternal slumber. The two connect easily and have an instant affection for one another. When Dan is supposed to return Ruby to the pound because their relationship is not working out, he cannot bear to lose her. Dan’s wife isn’t exactly the biggest fan; she wanted to have a quiet pregnancy, though that is clearly not in the cards. As the canine certification course approaches—a 30-minute affair that will test both dog and owner—Dan must ensure that Ruby is a family dog first and a canine dog second if he is to have any hope of fulfilling his dreams.
In case one forgot they were watching an inspiring dog movie, Rescued by Ruby goes overboard with this inspirational mood music. It hammers the audience over the head until the viewer is practically left unconscious. Underneath the sickly-sweet excess of the script, there is an adorable message about following one’s dreams, and furthermore trusting in a bigger power than oneself. Rescued by Ruby may thrill younger kids and hardcore dog lovers. Even as an avid dog person myself, Rescued by Ruby amounts to little more than a shrug and an admiration for that adorable dog.
Rescued By Ruby dashes across the finish line when it debuts exclusively to Netflix on Friday, March 17th.