HOLLYWOOD—Not often does Hollywood dabble with films that deal with animals. Yeah, we see flicks where animals have a role, but the feel-good flick “Max” makes the animal the star. I must say it’s an emotional rollercoaster at the same time.

The narrative follows Max, a Malinois Shepherd that is used to help the U.S. Marines while on the forefront in Afghanistan. The animal develops a strong bond with his handler Kyle (Robbie Amell). Kyle keeps in contact with his family back at home by sending video chats to his mom Pamela (Lauren Graham), his dad Raymond (Thomas Haden Church) and his brother Justin (Josh Wiggins). Out of all the family members, Justin seems to have the most disconnect with his big brother.

It’s a bit sad because both Raymond and Kyle share a bond, both being members who served in the military and Justin feels a bit left out of that loop. The movie sheds a bit of light on Americans being a bit more aware of what so many have sacrificed for us to enjoy the freedoms that we have.

There is a bit of drama Kyle endures while overseas when weapons go MIA. He is well aware his pal Tyler (Luke Kleintank is involved in the ruse. When Max ventures near a suicide bomber, it results in a traumatic incident for the dog that leads to the unexpected death of Kyle.

When the family learns about Kyle’s sudden death it leaves the family grieving as well as Max. That scene with Max doing his best to be next to Kyle’s casket while at the funeral just eats away at one’s heart in my opinion. It soon becomes apparent that no one can replace Kyle’s bond with the K-9 except his brother Justin. Max seems at ease when he is around Justin, but Justin at first has no desire to bond with the dog.

Once Justin realizes that Max is more at ease around him, the dog’s manners soon change for the better. “Max” does a stellar job and showcasing how powerful the bond between human and animal can be. Yes, it might be a melodramatic movie, but its feel good at the same time. The audience gets the opportunity to see a somewhat troubled child become reformed after a chance encounter with an animal who he thought he had nothing in common with.

The narrative is a bit cliché with a whodunit, that is quite obvious from the get go, but it takes the rest of the characters to figure out what Max has known all along. “Max” is a family-friendly flick that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of age or background. For those who have pets, you’ll return home showing an abundance amount of love to your four legged friend that sometimes is taken for granted.