Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

05 February 2008

Year of the Dog, dir. Mike White (2007)

NIKKI says:
I was excited to see this movie. The trailer made it look sweet, and, being a dog lover, I figured it held extra promise on a personal level. The Cat Stevens song thrown in was enough for me not even to question that this was the film for me. That it was written by Mike White was no real detraction -- I did love School of Rock after all.

How deceiving trailers can be, right? The movie started out reasonably well, even though a cute puppy died. Still, I figured such heartbreak would lead to something beautiful -- it didn't. Our heroine just became insane and unstable, with no real explanation why. So she was lonely, so she missed her dog -- how, again, did we end up at a chicken slaughterhouse?

About halfway through I was desperate for it all to be over. Suddenly, everything that made it quaint and intriguing in the beginning just became grating and horrible. Peter Sarsgaard's lowly dog-trainer was suddenly an insufferable bore, Laura Dern's over-protective mum was a fucking shrew, Thomas McCarthy as her husband was all but pointless, and Regina King's feisty best friend was stupid and annoying. The worst offender, though, was the main character. Her love of dogs was admirable early on, with her trying to get her little niece to understand why eating meat is bad and such. But then she ends up taking it to levels far too ridiculous when she rescues something like 15 dogs from an animal shelter. Does she realise, as we do, that the dogs couped up and living in their own filth in her apartment is not the best option for them?

But then, she's supposed to be losing her mind. But that's not really something I found all that enjoyable to witness. Especially when it had so little purpose. For instance, she's mental and stealing money from her workplace to send to animal rescue funds, and she gets fired. Oh, wait a minute, she's crazy, so all is forgiven, and she gets her job back. So, what was the point?

I just hated this movie. I hate it more and more. I thought it exploited my own love of animals to wrench emotion from me (the scene in the dog pound, for instance), but without anything nearing a satisfying pay off.

I'm told there is subtle, specific humour to this movie that makes it close to genius filmmaking. I saw no such humour, just stupid moments that might pass for comedy in the minds of people who find Molly Shanon funny in the first place. The scene where she's looking for the poison that killed her dog in John C. Reilly's garage as soon as they return from a date -- oh my god. That was my first instinct that something was wrong here. He was saying, "are you looking for something?" when it's blatantly obvious she is, as is what she's looking for. Then she leans over and White closes in on her butt, and then Reilly goes in for the hug, even though ice-queen Molly Shannon is giving off no vibes whatsoever, and then, ooh, it's awkward! Subtle comedy? Stupid comedy.

I read a review that said Mike White has an "ear for character". I don't think that's quite true. Shrewish wives, whipped husbands, rude neighbours, man-obsessed best friends, uptight bosses? Which one of those is not stock-standard and boring as batshit?

Next time, Mike White...


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