Year of the Dog
Year of the Dog-A Interesting Film From The Chuck and Buck Guy
My long-term readers may believe that I am a jaded, cynical bastard that lacks a heart. This is basically true, but I do like to be surprised and moved by a film, and Year of the Dog by director Mike White, yes Chuck and Buck f*ck and suck Mike White, delivers a touching little film. Molly Shannon takes a break from smelling her own armpits to give a great performance, now lets just get the dog jokes out of the way right now, okay. Yes, she is not a looker by any stretch of even the most robust imagination but lets focus on her acting, which is very good in Year of the Dog.
Year of the Dog takes a simple story but executes it very well. Peggy (Molly Shannon) is an aging administrative assistant whose main companion is her dog Pencil, who is poisoned and dies. This sends Peggy into a tailspin (couldn’t help myself) and as a result Peggy becomes a vegan and an animal rights activist. Certainly, Year of the Dog is a film with a message, but that message is delivered with immense heart and humor. Never does Year of the Dog seem preachy. Instead Year of the Dog, wisely delivers its message carefully wrapped in humor and the cute faces of the many animals in the film. One of the areas in which Year of the Dog excels is in pointing out the stupidity in how humans are treating animals but does so in a thoughtful and non-condescending way.
Year of the Dog does indeed excel on many levels, the script is very well crafted, and full of humor and written in such a manner as to give the actors latitude in their performances. The end result is that we, the audience, end up caring about Peggy and most viewers will probably identify with her position by the end-at least to some degree. I believe very firmly in animal rights and was delighted to see a film that dealt with this important subject in such a borderline brilliant manner. The film and the acting performances within are very good, I could say more but I don’t want to ruin this great film. It may not be the biggest, loudest film of the last couple of years but Year of the Dog is definitely worth your time and something of an overlooked gem.
Story A (This is a great script that will help many people think about animal rights issues in a new way.)
Acting B- (The acting in Year of the Dog is very good. Molly Shannon really gives a breakout performance and deviates far from how most people probably think of her. Peter Sarsgaard as Molly’s friend and fellow animal lover Newt gives one of his best performances to date and John C. Reilly, Regina King and Laura Dern are all very good and add to the overall quality of the film. It was nice to see King in particular playing something other than a mean character-very refreshing.)
Originality/Innovation A (Again, Year of the Dog, isn’t a big film, but it is innovative in its own way.)
Enjoyability Grade A (Year of the Dog, starts off a bit on the slow side, but about 20 minutes in Year of the Dog grabs the audience and doesn’t let go, sort of like a pit bull I suppose.)
Home Theater/HD Factor B
Overall Grade A (A definite must see, especially if you are bored with all that Hollowood (yes, I know how the spell it the “correct” way and this is a mandatory disclaimer because some people are dumb asses) has to offer, you should love Year of the Dog.)