After seeing the previews, I expected our review of Max to say the movie is a tearjerker.

But it’s not. Max is actually much more fun than expected!

That’s not to say there aren’t sad moments. But you won’t need to bring a box of tissues to this film. One or two tucked discretely away in a pocket should be sufficient.

Max is a boy-and-dog coming-of-age movie.

The story is packed with flawed characters, setting aside the mom (played wonderfully by Lauren Graham), and our dead hero (Robbie Amell).

After the death of his older brother in Afghanistan, sullen teen Josh Wiggins (Justin Wincott) and his family struggle to overcome both their sadness and their already strained family relationships.

Add into this mix a traumatized dog trained for war, beloved by the now dead brother, but destined to be put down, and you’ve got the makings for an extremely dramatic movie.

And it is dramatic. But for the most part, the sad parts are handled efficiently. They aren’t long, drawn out, affairs. The heart strings are pulled, but not to the breaking point.

From there, the movie moves swiftly along to the adventure, growing-up and healing stages.

Aided by friends Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) and Carmen (Mia Xitlali – who threatens to run away with the whole movie with her excellent portrayal of a sassy, smart, tomboyish teen), Josh and Max turn their lives around and save the day.

There are some Lassie-like moments in Max where suspending disbelief is required. It’s worth doing this to enjoy all the great moments in Max – and there are many.

Max is rated PG. If you are taking kids, be aware there is some light profanity, firefights, explosions, deaths (though no blood and gore), and dramatic themes.

Oh, and you might be wondering, especially if you are taking kids… Does the dog in Max die at the end? Click on the tab below to find out (it won’t ruin the movie for you).

[spoiler title=”Does the dog die?”]No. There are some suspenseful moments, but Max does not die. [/spoiler]

Max opens in theaters throughout the US on Friday, June 26.

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They’ll appreciate the heads up on what the movie is like!