"Year of the Dog"
Directed by Mike White.
Written by Mike White.
Starring Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Regina King and Peter
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 4/12/07
Although I had not seen a trailer for the
movie "Year of the Dog", just knowing that writer Mike White was
attached was enough for me. As the writer of comedies I liked
Rock", "The Good
Girl" and last year's
White's first effort behind the camera was good enough to be a sight
unseen for me--it really didn't matter what "Year of the Dog" was
about, I was all over it.
And, I fucking blew it here. Not
really a comedy, and not really a drama, but an uncomfortable,
unfunny pro-animal anti-meat-eating movie, "Year of the Dog" failed
every single category during my free screening tonight in Bethesda.
Molly Shannon stars as Peggy, a lonely secretary who has a lovely
little puppy who whom she shares every non-work activity: she walks
the dog, she hangs out with the dog at home in front of the TV, they
take road trips together, and she even sleeps with the dog.
Then, one night, her dog goes off to take a leak one night and by
the next day, her beloved puppy is dead, possibly at the hands of
some kind of toxic poisoning left in the garage of her next door
neighbor (John C. Reilly). Devastated, she begins to behave
completely fucking erratically, distressing those in what little
life she has, like her best friend at work, Layla (Regina King), her
brother and sister-in-law (Thomas McCarthy and Laura Dern), and a
man at the pet doctor who she meets over the death of her first dog,
a man named Newt (Peter Sarsgaard). Grief-stricken to the
point of going suicidal, Peggy is saved when Newt tosses a dog
adoption her way, the first of many dogs that Peggy will become
attached to while trying to rebuild her life.
First of all, I really hurt for White and
his production team if "Year of the Dog" was supposed to be funny.
Our packed-house audience nearly went out of their way to NOT laugh
at the majority of the seemingly-intended jokes in the movie.
Shannon is a gifted comedian but one who doesn't seem well geared to
play a role that requires her to be the straight (wo)man to the
hapless behavior of others...but, then, her co-stars seem to also be
playing it straight, which must be how the characters were written,
which is a bad idea that shows throughout the film's running time.
I almost couldn't get over how forced so much of "Year of the Dog"
felt; it is very rare when I can say that John C. Reilly is not good
in a film, and in "Year of the Dog", he is very ungood. VERY.
The use of static, face-up shots to play out conversations between
two characters doesn't work as well as it does in Wes Anderson's
movies, to mention one prominent director who does this a lot;
having King and Shannon's constant work conversations play out this
way make these seem even more forced than they would if they weren't
looking directly at the audience, and to get what I mean, you will
have to see the movie.
Which, you shouldn't do. Unless, you
are a big-time dog lover; I could see why dog lovers might like this
movie. Shit, if they had just called it "PETA, I Love You", at
least it would draw in the right audience. Also, I would think
that vegans and vegetarians in general will fucking LOVE "Year of
the Dog." FUCKING LOVE IT. They won't love it because
it's good; no, they'll love it because it pushes an agenda around
why any sane person would enjoy some good, grilled steer before
attacking their work day.
Wow, I really thought this sucked major
dong. I'm more upset that I turned down another freebie to see
this one, and I clearly made the wrong pick. Happens, I guess.
Rating: Hard Vice
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard