Year Of The Dog
Review by Jack Foley
THERE’S quirky and then there’s just barking mad – and Mike White’s Year Of The Dog certainly conforms to the latter.
Molly Shannon stars as Peggy, a shy office worker who loves her pet dog Pencil more than anything in the world – so when he unexpectedly passes away, she’s devastated.
Peggy is slowly coaxed out of her grief, though, by some of the people around her, including a knife-loving, hunt-obsessed neighbour (John C Reilly) and – most notably – a sexually ambiguous dog trainer (Peter Sarsgaard) who persuades her to take on more (and more) pets.
In doing so, however, she finds herself drifting away from her old lifestyle to become an animal activist of sorts and eventually pursues a completely different path.
From its oddball characters to its amusing script, the film seldom does what’s expected from a movie. Rather, it flies in the face of convention to deliver a defiantly alternative view on life and all its eccentricities.
White, who penned the scripts for Chuck & Buck, School of Rock and Nacho Libre among others, invests proceedings with a very dry humour and coaxes strong performances from his game cast.
Molly Shannon, another Saturday Night Live luminary, is wonderfully understated as Peggy, delivering a vast array of horrified expressions, while the likes of Peter Sarsgaard, John C Reilly, Regina King and Laura Dern are just as good.
Dog lovers are sure to enjoy the various mishaps that befall the canine owners and the film will also appeal to anyone with an indie sensibility.
The only downside is that it’s just too quirky for some tastes and threatens to become a little too weird during the latter stages – some of the situations are just plain uncomfortable (especially if you don’t share an affinity for canine friends).
In spite of such reservations, however, Year Of The Dog is well worth giving a chance, especially in light of the sterling work of its leads.
Running time: 96mins
UK DVD Release: February 25, 2008