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Movie Review: Year of the Dog

Alternate Title: All Creatures Great and Small

Story: This is a doggone good directorial debut for writer Mike White. If you have a soft spot in your heart for animals you have got to see this film. Mike White's unconventional view of humankind has been a thread in all of his films and he hits the mark again in this movie.

Peggy, an unremarkable office worker, tries to fit into the mainstream of what 'normal' suggests. She obvious human frailty and her search to blend in is frustrating. One day, Pencil, her adorable beagle, dies of toxic poisoning. Her otherwise, routine existence is turned upside down. How she copes, how she mourns, how she finds her bliss and passion in life is what this film is all about. There were many laughs and a few tears.

All of the characters in this film are treated with dignity, regardless of their foibles and self-absorbtion. I cared for them all but I especially fell for Peggy. It was refreshing to find a heroine who finally discovers her meaning in life and it is NOT on the arm of a handsome Prince.

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.( Andy Rooney).

Acting: SNL's Molly Shannon is simply wonderful as the passionate Peggy. Brava to her. Regina King, as her co-worker is hysterical. Laura Dern and Tom McCarthy have never been better. Peter Sarsgaard, as an animal activist is great. John C. Reilly as the neighbor hands us another wonderful performance and Josh Pais as the boss made me roar with laughter.

Predilection: I love animals. All of them. Check out my video homage on youtube.com to Benny and Madison, who grace my home with their presence.


Critters: To those out there who will not go to see a film where an animal gets hurt let me assure you that you do not actually see any of the bad stuff but you are certainly aware of two bad instances. That said, let me name them the critters. There were so many dogs I lost count. There were also sheep, chickens, horses, donkeys and cows.

Food: There is lots of discussion about being a vegetarian, as a lifestyle.

Blatant Product Placement: Diet Coke, Dog World and Dog Fancy magazines and Victoria Secret.

Soundtrack: Very appropriate and toe tapping.

Opening Titles: Simple title over a sequence showing Peggy and Pencil at home.

Visual Art: Some really bad wall art that you would find at a mall. (No dogs playing poker though).

Theater Audience: About six other dog owners.

Weather: It is Southern California. It is sunny and dry.

Sappy Factor: 0 - Lesser hands would have made this a sap-fest.

Quirky Meter: 3 -Mike White always gets a quirky reading.

Squirm Scale: The idea of euthanasia makes me squirm.

Drift Factor: No drifting for me.

Predictability Level: I was not sure where this film was headed.

Tissue Usage: I welled up a number of times.

Oscar Worthy: No

Soap Box: Animal cruelty, animal medical testing and animal abuse are a passion of mine and I support Animal organizations with my wallet and my voice.

Big Screen or Rental: Mike White as a writer is a rare entity. Here are some of his other memorable films to rent: The School of Rock, The Good Girl, Chuck&Buck by)

Length: Under two hours