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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Megan Leavey"

Service animals have been in the forefront in recent years. Seen for a long time as unsung heroes, these specially trained companions have saved countless lives both domestically and around the world, especially when it comes to our brave men and women defending our freedom. They are also mutually beneficial to both animal and trainer, and in the case of Marine Megan Leavey, a bond became family, which is brought to the silver screen by “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

In this film named after its subject, Kata Mara stars as Leavey, a young woman who is searching for direction after the death of her best friend along with the power struggle instigated by her mother (Edie Falco) and a father that tries to bring balance (Bradley Whitford). As she passes a recruiting office for the Marines, she makes the decision to change her life forever in service. After a few mishaps and struggles, she winds up working with the K-9 bomb unit, headed by Gunny Martin (Common). After a tour in the Middle East with an unfortunate incident, she decides not to renew her contract, and even though her dog, Rex, is also injured, the Corps will not let her adopt her companion. She then goes on a one-woman mission to show everyone involved how important it is to be able to have the most important aspect her life continue to be just that.

“Megan Leavey” is one of those films that I am glad is getting a theatrical release. This could easily have gone straight to On Demand or Blu-Ray given that it may not make a ton of money, but this wonderful story should be seen on the big screen. With great visual images of the war fought both abroad and at home and a very emotional story told by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo, and Tim Lovestedt, I found myself welling up a few times during the two hours I spent in the theater here. Leavey’s story is one that is prime for bringing awareness to the issue of animal soldiers that are so much more. Given everything that Leavey goes through to adopt Rex should shine some light on a process that needs to be re-examined in order to be fair and equitable to everyone involved. I understand that there is a huge amount of training to get these companions in proper shape, but there is also a bond between trainer and animal that has to be recognized, especially when it comes to injury and trauma. More often than not, people with animals become just as (if not more than) reliable on the animal partner as the reverse, and “Megan Leavey” is a great case study. My hope is that Megan’s story (as well as this film) is the catalyst to let more soldiers have emotional support animals available to them, especially when they serve together around this world. This is a film that works emotionally on every level, having me cheer her on at one point and feeling her heartache and pain the next. For animal lovers and advocates, this is a must see and works as a rallying cry for those who support our military and their bravery on every front.

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