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Film / Angel Dog

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Angel Dog, also known as Cooper, is a 2011 family drama directed by Robin Nations (real name Conly). After losing his wife and children in a car accident that only Cooper — the dog the family had recently adopted — survives, Jake Bryant is distraught. He spends several days in mourning before he eventually brings Cooper home and slowly warms up to him. Meanwhile, the vet who took care of Cooper while he was at the clinic, Caroline Mason, has to look after her dementia-suffering mother. Cooper touches both their lives, and the lives of everyone else around him.


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Angel Dog contains the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: After watching this, you may want to take the day off from work next time your family decides to go on a hike without you, just to make sure ...
  • Angel Unaware: Cooper, probably.
  • Babies Ever After: Well, a puppy ever after, but close enough.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Jake’s family and Caroline’s mother are dead, and Cooper has left them both, but on the bright side, he’s gone on to comfort more people in mourning, and it’s implied that Jake and Caroline will end up dating.
  • Blatant Lies: Caroline telling Nita that her mother is "doing well". In truth, she's suffering from dementia, and doesn't live to the end of the film.
  • But Now I Must Go: Cooper stays to console the grieving, but once they’ve improved enough, he leaves to live with another mourner.
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  • Calling The Old Woman Out: Caroline does this to her mother for falling into despair when her father walked out on the family when she was young.
  • Canine Companion: Once he warms up to him, Jake starts taking Cooper almost anywhere he goes, even when he steps into his soon-to-be-former workplace for the first time in several months in order to resign.
  • Character Title: Both of the film's titles, Angel Dog and Cooper.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Subverted with the Ill Girl in the park. One would assume that's who Cooper was going to live with, but he didn't.
  • Downer Beginning: It starts out with Jake’s family going on a hike with Cooper, only to die in a crash on the way home. It gets better, though.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Jake eventually accepts that Cooper has moved on, adopts a puppy who he names "Hank Jr." after the name Seth and Bobbie gave Cooper when they met him, and the relationship between him and Caroline begins to bloom.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: May or may not be the case with Jake, who dismisses every claim that Cooper is a “miracle dog”, despite all evidence that he probably is. Although there are a few crosses in his house. But then again, Cooper may or may not be a literal angel dog.
  • Freudian Slip: Trey tricks Caroline into implying that she finds Jake to be attractive, when she has openly denied having any interest in romantic relationships many times.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jake, after the loss of his family.
  • Ill Girl: Jake and Caroline encounter one in the park, who gets to meet Cooper. When Cooper leaves Jake, Caroline thinks that's who he went to live with. At least at first.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Caroline is generally standoffish towards other people, but shows genuine concern towards Cooper’s well-being, and slowly gets better over the course of the film.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It’s never made clear whether or not Cooper is a literal “angel dog”, or if he’s simply angelic in nature. However, given the prominent Christian imagery in the film, the filmmakers themselves may lean more towards the former explanation.
  • Not So Different: What causes Jake to finally accept Cooper into his life.
    Jake: You miss them too, don't you?
  • Red Herring: After Cooper disappears for the first time, Jake thinks he's gone back to Seth and Bobbie, whereas Caroline thinks he's gone to live with the Ill Girl they met in the park. Both are wrong: he's gone to live with Caroline, who had just lost her mother.
  • Time Skip: The film occurs over a period of about 9 months or more, with few indications to show for it, except the appearance of a Christmas party on (obviously) Christmas Eve.
  • Walking the Earth: Or at least, Texas.
  • Wham Shot: The missing dog poster, which starts another conflict that ends up resolved, much to Jake's benefit.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Angry that Jake has spent days without picking up Cooper, Caroline intends to start billing him for housing, and when he finally comes to take him home, calls him out for leaving him there for so long.
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