In some ways, Jack is the true heart and soul (and tongue and paw) of The Artist. He's clever, he's cute, and he's there when you need him.
He's also an extension of George himself—many of George's tricks and jokes, such as his charade at the breakfast table or his extended standing ovation at his film premiere, don't work without Jack's participation (and mad skills for playing dead!).
George's Biggest Fan
Always at George's heels (he even accompanies his owner to watch a movie), Jack's adoring devotion mimics the way George's fans feel about him…and even the way George wants to feel about himself.
In fact, sometimes it even seems like George can't tell the difference between Jack and himself:
WOMAN AT MOVIE THEATRE: He's so cute.
GEORGE: If only he could talk.
Paging Dr. Freud—we have a serious case of sublimation going on here. Of course, what George means is that he wishes he (meaning George) could talk—and star in talkies—but hey: if you can blame missing homework on your dog, you can definitely blame your professional failings.
Perfect for a silent film, Jack doesn't need to speak because he's just a cute lil' pooch. But he does need to make noise—Jack's bark alerts us to important events and dangers, like when George nearly dies in the house fire.
But don't mistake Jack for an all-noble dog like Lassie. His comedic timing relieves the film from heaviness, like when George's gun goes off and Jack plays dead, causing both George and Peppy to laugh off what could otherwise be a deeply sad situation.
Tail-Wagging on Cue
Like the actors that surround him, Jack is well-trained in performance and lives not for doggy treats, but for the audience. He lacks the ego of the characters around him, however, and his canine innocence makes him an excellent lens for the audience, shedding new light on the events of the film.
RIP Uggie, the dog who played Jack in the film and died in August 2015 at the tender age of thirteen. Uggie also starred in Water for Elephants with Reese Witherspoon, and won a Palm Dog Award (yes, that's a thing) at Cannes for his role in The Artist.