Year Of The Dog

Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
The cover is pretty cool with its touch of cartoonishness. It’s not entirely representative of the movie, but it’s a huge effort to make the DVD package interesting. The menus, well, let’s just say the intern who did the menus hasn’t graduated from the early days of DVD menus. Each navigation page features a still from the movie and links to the different sections. That’s it. It’s too bad that such a groovy movie gets such a half lame package 🙁

Features: 7/10

  • Commentary By Mike White & Molly Shannon – Mike White’s voice is possibly THE most annoying voice I would ever expect to hear on a commentary. He says ok stuff, and Molly Shannon is funny, but the semi-nasally 30-something “I’m a writer guy who looks at the world in unique and interesting ways so I think I’ll whine a little to sound extra creative.” kind of gets on my nerves.
  • The Making Of Year Of The Dog – This is a good documentary style feature that follows the cast and crew on set, mostly the director, through the making of the movie. There are interviews with White and lead performers, not to mention lots of butt kissing and “he/she is so great to work with” as we have all become accustomed to seeing on these DVD extras. It is a substantial addition to the DVD. It’s worth watching if you like the movie.
  • 3 Featurettes – These are shorter, but still quality behind the scenes bits about Molly Shannon, Mike White, and some background on the dogs and their training on the set.
  • Deleted Scenes – Standard deleted scenes that are more extended scenes with nothing that would have added to the story.
  • Gag Reel – There’s giggling, stuff falling over, props misbehaving, and dogs not taking direction very well.

The Movie: 8/10
I’m not a dog lover. I’m not a pet lover. I don’t like animals in my house. Why would I appreciate this movie? I don’t feel the whole animal love thing, but I get it. That might give you a clue about what this movie has to offer.

Molly Shannon plays a woman who, for lack of that certain umph, builds her daily life around her dog, Pencil. She’s alone. She works in an office that’s populated with a lot of stereotypical office dwellers. There are the people who suck up her free donuts with no real appreciation. There’s the boss who’s a dick and has been given that boring edge like all good annoying movie bosses have these days.

Peggy, she smiles and nods while people dump their problems on her. Peggy, she has an orderly house, tidy clothes, and organized existence. Peggy, she finds out suddenly that she’s missing something in life….herself.

Molly Shannon is amazing. It’s true. She’s funny and clever and so much fun to watch. She has that certain combo of comedy and drama that makes her endlessly watch able for me. She’s got some big time company with John C. Reilly, and Peter Sarsgaard playing unconventional potential love interests.

Peggy is content with her life until she is faced with a new kind of loneliness. She meets her neighbor, Reilly, who represents all the things that “guyness” means. He’s decent, but as with so many other White characters, he’s a stereotype of manliness (kind of). She then gets to know Sarsgaard who represents all the things she thinks she wants in a man, compassion, animal lover, a bit quirky. Both men offer her something, but neither live up to the devotion she’s used to after having a trustworthy pet for so long.

At one point Peggy tells one of them that he confirms what she has always thought about people, and that her pets have never let her down. She is discovering the difference between the person she wants to be and what other people expect her to do with her life. She needs to be her own person. She has a well intended friend, played by Regina King, who is totally wrapped up in the bling, the ring, the good looking guy, shopping, and getting her shallow man to marry her. She wants Peggy to “get laid”, find a man, the things that are important to her.

Peggy’s brother and his wife are the suburban couple from hell. If people think that Mike White writes characters who are not over the top or overly stereotypical, ummmm I disagree. I know these people exist. The parents who read too many magazines and watch too much Oprah, spell bad words and whisper bad things about the nanny behind her back. They want Peggy to just be normal, like them with a couple of kids, Martha Stewart decor, furs in the closet, happily oblivious to reality.

Even Peggy’s boss does his best to keep her in a tidy little box, not allowing her to bring her own interests to work, putting her down by reminding her that he has degrees and she doesn’t, simply put, making sure she knows her place in the food chain.

It’s time that Peggy figure out who she wants to be, her own way. No more donuts, no more smiling and nodding at people and their bullshit sob stories. It’s time for her to find her place in the world.

Value: 6/10
This is a good movie to have on your DVD shelf if you think you will watch it every time you are feeling down about your mundane existence. It’s also good for a gift for that person we all know who has just a few too many pets to be healthy.

However, for a one-time watch to laugh and cry (a little) , it’s a perfect rental.

Overall Score 8/10