Year of the Dog

"Grim"

Year of the Dog Review


There's a passage in Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One that lends itself directly to Mike White's Year of the Dog, regardless of where the film runs with this idea. Said by the owner of a pet mortuary to a lowly employee concerning normal funeral homes: "Why wouldn't I be [jealous of] all that dough going to relations they've hated all their lives, while the pets who've loved them and stood by them, never asked no questions, never complained, rich or poor, sickness or health, get buried anyway like animals?" Correctly assuming that as a public we take the love we can't find with humans and bestow it on animals, Waugh's criticism has more than a leg up on Mike White's directorial debut.

Peggy (Molly Shannon) dotes on Pencil, her puppy, with the affection only rewarded to the luckiest of children from the most spoiling of parents. So, when Pencil gets into some toxic shrubbery and goes, as all dogs do, to heaven, Peggy is inconsolable. Not that there aren't plenty of people who want to help her. Her oafish neighbor (John C. Reilly) wants to date her, her best friend (Regina King) wants to set her up with someone, and the receptionist at the vet (the invaluable Peter Sarsgaard) wants to get her a new dog ASAP. It's the receptionist, Newt, who gets Peggy into veganism and, ostensibly, sends her on a path of social destruction the likes of which are rarely seen.

Great comedians don't make great directors, a fact which should be rather evident at this point (Chris Rock's deplorable I Think I Love My Wife). White, who is a gifted writer and comedian, sadly can do squat to visually stimulate us the way his script yearns to. Expectedly, the tone of this misbegotten mongrel is rocky, though its structure is akin to White's script for The Good Girl. Shots seem to ape the sub-Solondz polarized dystopia of Jared Hess, but Year of the Dog at least strives for ideas, unlike the aforementioned Napoleon Dynamite auteur.

Molly Shannon, a talented comedian, can't be expected to understand Peggy in her moments of humor or heartbreak, at least not completely. Where Jennifer Aniston's bored bigamist and Joan Cusack's repressed rockaholic were clearly defined and vividly portrayed, Peggy is an anomaly of misdirected feelings and frazzled dependency. White can't fully follow through with her emotional trajectory for some reason, leaving the character placidly frustrating but without the sense of intricacy that would make her interesting. Worse still, White's feelings on animal activism and veganism seem indecisive, never really taking a stand on either.

For all the delicate performances that go into Year of the Dog, the end result is more whimper than bark (forget any thought of bite). Let it never go unsaid that a film's disposition isn't helped by a few ridiculously-adorable puppies, but we're not suckers. Year of the Dog has good intentions and a golden heart, but that doesn't take you that far. Don't wince too much; every dog has its day.

Bow wow.



Year of the Dog

Facts and Figures

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Friday 31st August 2007

Box Office USA: $1.5M

Distributed by: Paramount Vantage

Production compaines: Black & White Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Fresh: 97 Rotten: 43

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Dede Gardner, Ben LeClair

Starring: as Peggy, as Bret, as Layla, John C. Reilly as Al, as Pier, as Newt, as Robin, as Trishelle

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.