A biscuit-size film about animal lovers and other crazies
Anyone who’s ever been close with a pet will instantly identify with Year of the Dog , a film which plays off the special kind of relationship that can exist between humans and animals.
Molly Shannon is Peggy Spade, a socially mal-adjusted secretary who is forced to reexamine her life after the sudden death of her beloved dog, Pencil. Shannon is in fine form, not just as a comedian, but as an actress. For those of you expecting her to portray an annoying SNL-cutout character (a la Mary Katherine Gallagher) will be sorely disappointed.
In fact, most of the laughs come from the rock-solid supporting cast. Regina King is hilarious as her best friend who has a habit of speaking her mind ("Even retarded crippled people get married," she says to Peggy in an attempt to sympathize over her dismal love life). Then there’s Laura Dern as her sister-in-law who is convinced the nanny is secretly drugging her baby with Benadryl, and neighbor John C. Reilly, an obsessed hunter, who may or may not have inadvertently killed poor Pencil.
Also rounding out the cast is Peter Sarsgaard, who proves his versatility by playing a possible love interest for Peggy as a sensitive man attached to his dogs possibly even more so than her. But just when the plot seems bound for the conventional treatment, the rug gets swept out from underneath and things turn extreme.
Screenwriter/actor Mike White (School of Rock , Nacho Libre , The Good Girl ) is behind the camera directing for the first time, and while he’s clearly in command of the subject material, which he also wrote, there is an over-reliance on slightly off-center, still-framed shots that contribute to the generally static nature of the film.
Regardless, Year of the Dog is obviously a passion project for all those involved and the film is commendable for absolutely refusing to fall in line with today’s stereotypical romantic comedy. However, if you find yourself skeptical of this movie from the get-go, it’s probably not for you…
The DVD has a surprisingly ample amount of special features for such a small-known movie, including commentary by White and Shannon, three featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a bunch more.