MEGAN LEAVEY — Review by Susan Granger

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While “Wonder Woman” celebrates a fantasy hero, “Megan Leavey” reveals the true story of a real woman, a Marine in combat, and the bomb-sniffing German Shepherd who becomes her constant companion. Growing up in suburban Valley Cottage, New York, Megan Leavey (Kate Mara), admittedly, doesn’t connect with people very well, nor does Rex, the large, aggressive, allegedly uncontrollable Military Working Dog dog with whom she’s paired in Marine K-9 training at Camp Pendleton. Continue reading…

They soon become inseparable and, when they’re deployed to Iraq, their bond is forged even deeper. After more than 100 missions from 2003 to 2006, Megan is wounded by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and sent home, leaving Rex behind with a series of different handlers.

Suffering from PTSD, stoic Megan descends into a deep depression, much to the annoyance of her ne’er-do-well, divorced mother Kathy (Edie Falco). And it isn’t until her empathetic father Bob (Bradley Whitford) questions what would make Megan’s life worth living, that she realizes that the answer is Rex.

So Megan launches her own four-year quest to adopt Rex when he’s injured and duly retired after his military service, battling a stubborn veterinarian who deems Rex “too ferocious” and, publicly, enlisting help from New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (Andrew Masset).

The uplifting screenplay is sensitively crafted by Pamela Gray, Annie Mumolo and Tim Lovestedt and deftly directed as a docudrama by Gabriela Cowperthwaite (“Blackfish,” the SeaWorld expose), who elicits nuanced performances not only from Kate Mara but also Common, as Megan’s no-nonsense sergeant, and Ramon Rodriguez, as her romantic interest.

Kudos also to cinematographer Lorenzo Senatore and editor Peter McNulty, whose restrained depiction Megan and her cohorts patrolling the desert war zones of Fallujah and Ramadi seems accurately harrowing.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Megan Leavey” is a subtly satisfying 7, celebrating our soldiers’ canine comrades.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.