Finch, available to stream on Apple TV Plus, is your classic a boy and his dog story, starring Tom Hanks (Finch), Caleb Landry Jones (Jeff), and Seamus (Goodyear). It’s a simple story, with a simple truth regarding the bond between human and dog, set in extraordinary circumstances.
This setting is a world ravaged by the neglect of humans. With the atmosphere in tatters, solar flares wreaked havoc on our way of life. Creating weather events that unpredictably rage for weeks on end and a sun that is lethal to stand beneath.
Finch gets by on his own ingenuity and intellect in order to survive well enough to care for his dog, Goodyear (Seamus). Over time, though, Finch’s health has deteriorated due to radiation poisoning, and he is all too aware that his time, and food, are running out. How Goodyear will survive after his inevitable death becomes his sole mission, purpose, and reason for living.
Honoring the ‘Boy and His Dog’ Story
Previously a robotics engineer and computer scientist, Finch is better equipped than your average movie survivor to tackle post-apocalyptic-style obstacles.
Overall, his survival methods, priorities, and innovations are practical, science-based, and fully revolve around Goodyear. For instance, he’s turned a standard RV into a weather-resistant escape fortress, for when St. Louis inevitably runs out of resources. Plus, a dog-like robot to assist with scavenging meals for Goodyear, as well as parts to build him a new caretaker — a robot that will outlive Finch, with extensive programming in dog care and survival.
Now, at first, Goodyear seems very skeptical about this robot, later named Jeff. But just the fact that we, the audience, pick up on this skepticism says a lot about how the filmmakers used cinematic language to give Goodyear dialogue. They took great care in clueing us into the long-standing bond between Finch and Goodyear, and Seamus’ emotive ability communicates the rest.
What this gives us is a way of understanding that while Goodyear has concerns about Jeff, he trusts that Finch has his back. From there, the story of Finch takes off, quickly becoming a road trip adventure story. One where a boy and his dog must learn to envelop a robot into their circle of trust, and where a robot born yesterday must learn how to earn that spot.
Goodyear: A Fully-Realized Canine Character
Canine characters in films tend to be one of two things — a sidekick, or a plot device.
Dogs are rarely the showstopper, the star, or the heart of the narrative. They often exist to move along a human story, to help a human character learn something about themselves, or sometimes they’re even just a cute sidekick, meant to distract you from a lack of story.
But in Finch, we get something very different. “He’s not my dog. He’s his own dog,” says Finch.
Goodyear is a fully-realized canine character that defies those tropes. He really is “his own dog,” who is characterized as a being that cares for Finch, just as Finch cares for him. Different methods, but equal importance. As a character, Goodyear doesn’t exist to facilitate Finch’s story; it’s the opposite. Finch exists in this story for Jeff to learn how to care for Goodyear, and for Goodyear to learn how to trust someone that isn’t Finch. Ultimately, it’s the non-human characters of the film who have all of the growth, which is unique. Finch helps them achieve that growth, instead of the other way around.
For a dog to have that kind of role in a film, the writers, filmmakers, and actors, all need to have a genuine understanding and respect for the vital role dogs have in human lives. And, of course, you need an exceptional canine actor, maybe with a bit of real-life experience in the trust department.
Seamus: Homeless Stray to Movie Star
Goodyear is played by Seamus, an Irish Terrier Mix, who has one incredible story.
Seamus isn’t some posh Hollywood dog, trained to perfection for maximum heartstring yanking. Once upon a time, he was a malnourished stray, pronounced unadoptable due to failed temperament testing. Same as countless others currently in shelters awaiting euthanasia.
Fortunately, Seamus avoided this fate due to the kindness of everyday dog-lovers and professionals. Two women, in particular, played a vital role in Seamus’ story. Melissa Ryan, owner of Daly Dog Care in Hamilton, Montana, and Mara Segal, owner of Redwood Pals Rescue in McKinleyville, California.
Ryan found Seamus, as well as his pit-bull travel companion, Josie, while traveling to California via route 36 — for the unfamiliar, that’s basically Middle of Nowhere, California. In the rain, she spent an hour gaining enough trust with these dogs to lure them into her truck. According to Ryan, Seamus was “cold, covered in mud, a bit emaciated, covered in ticks… and very, very hungry.” While Ryan’s present circumstance didn’t allow her to take the dogs in herself, she fed them, cleaned them up, picked as many ticks off Seamus as possible, and stayed in contact with animal control.
At the animal control shelter, both Josie and Seamus were temperament tested. Josie passed and was quickly adopted, but Seamus failed due to aggression towards other dogs. Often, the anxiety of the shelter can have this effect. Luckily, Redwood Pals Rescue was waiting in the wings to give this good boy the second chance he never should have needed.
Segal and her crew spent quality time with Seamus, and got to know who the pup really was outside the trauma of abandonment. Once they were sure his alleged aggression shouldn’t hinder him from finding a forever home, they began putting his photo in local papers and national listings. According to Segal, they never imagined Hollywood would take an interest, “we were advertising him, just to find him a home,” she told us.
Around the same time, a Hollywood animal trainer by the name of Jennifer Henderson was searching for a pup with the right look for the live-action Lady and the Tramp. Having spotted Segal’s listings for Seamus, she contacted Redwood Pals. Segal explained to us that it didn’t take long for Seamus to win over Henderson. A few emails, videos, and photos later, and she was headed up north to have a sit-down dinner with Segal and meet Seamus.
Then, the very next day, he was off to Hollywood.
As it happened, Seamus didn’t get the part in Lady and the Tramp, but another Hollywood trainer, Mark Forbes, took an interest in him for Finch. According to Forbes, Seamus sparked an instant connection with Tom Hanks. “Before we knew it, Tom and him were rolling around on the floor,” Forbes told SyFy.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be smooth sailing from there. Between the pandemic, and two surgeries Seamus had to endure to clear a blockage in his intestines, the film’s release would be delayed until November 2021 from its initial October 2020 release.
Meanwhile, Ryan and Segal, both sworn to secrecy, waited with eager anticipation for the good boy they saved to make his big-screen debut. Once able, they both used his story as a shining example of all the “diamonds in the rough,” as Segal calls them, who still need homes. Ryan even keeps a Finch poster up in her shop, alongside a picture of Seamus.
As for the dog himself, Seamus is now living the good life as a pampered Hollywood star on a ranch in California, with an animal trainer and dog enthusiast named Angela. She has welcomed both Ryan and Segal to her ranch anytime they wish to check in on Seamus.
Does Finch Advocate for Dog-Centric Issues?
Finch, as a narrative film, is not about the issues surrounding dog advocacy—which is okay. You can’t fit this kind of messaging into every narrative, and the film, as mentioned, does a tremendous job of advocating for the bond between human and dog.
But—we would have loved to see credit given to these amazing individuals who helped bring Seamus into the fold. Without them, who knows where he would be today. Certainly not a Hollywood film set.
That being said, the production and Apple TV Plus are to be praised for taking care of the surgeries Seamus needed, for caring for him throughout recovery, and for finding him the loveliest of forever homes after production. Furthermore, the production did fully comply with the American Humane Association’s “No Animals Were Harmed” initiative, with representatives on set throughout. Job well done.
How to Watch Finch on Apple TV Plus
Finch is an Apple TV Plus original film and is currently available to stream with a paid subscription.
If you’re interested in watching Finch and checking out Apple TV Plus’ extensive catalog of original series and films, you can sign up for a free 7-day trial here. Or, if you’ve recently purchased an Apple device of any kind, your purchase includes a 3-month subscription to the Apple TV Plus service.
For further reading about man’s best friend in films, be sure to check out 8 Sad-But-Great Dog Movies to Make You Ugly Cry, over on our sister site DogTime. Follow their brand new TikTok for hilarious dog shenanigans, as well.
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