Arthur the King is an adventure movie and meet-cute about a man and a dog. It’s based on the true story of professional adventure racer Mikael Lindnord and a scrappy stray dubbed Arthur who tagged along with Mikael and his teammates on a grueling endurance race across Ecuador in 2014. You can read all about it in Lindnord’s book, “Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home,” and/or you can watch this awwww-inspiring somewhat fictionalized version that dog-lovers everywhere will find quite fetching.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Michael Light, a pro adventure racer who can’t quite reach the pinnacle of his sport but refuses to give up (“a racer’s gotta race”). He talks his way into getting a sponsor and pulls together a diverse team for the 2018 Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. Four-person teams from around the world–  who all seem like gluttons for punishment– are tasked with running, climbing, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking across 435 miles of rugged terrain over the course of 10 days, with minimal breaks for eating and sleeping. Each team navigates their own way to the finish line. It’s like “The Amazing Race” on steroids.

Michael’s teammates include Chik (Ali Suliman), a veteran racer and great navigator with a bum knee; Olivia (Nathalie Emmanuel), a skilled climber who joined the race to make her daddy proud; and Leo (Simu Liu), a fierce competitor and social-media influencer who documents his every move on Instagram. Each has their own motivation for racing, but they can only win if they work as a team. Can they do it? Maybe — if they can draw some lessons in bonding, sacrifice, survival, and kinship from the stray dog that decided to tag along after Michael fed the hungry pup a couple of ready-to-eat meatballs.

The movie has its flaws (none of which can be blamed on the dog). It takes too long to get to the Michael-Arthur meet-cute; the script is a bit cheesy with dialogue that takes foreshadowing to the extreme (“Trust your team, Michael”, “Don’t be selfish, Michael”); and, it feels longer than its 90-minute running time. But it’s still a sweet, heartwarming rescue story that proves at least moderately entertaining thanks to a dog that takes miraculous direction, Mark Wahlberg’s affability, and some very cool and intense action sequences.

Note: While generally “family-friendly,” the movie is PG-13 and not really suitable for younger kids.

Arthur the King opens in theaters March 15.

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