It’s my first movie of the festival. I sit down to enjoy something that is hopefully a quirky, but not too quirky, comedy, when Mike White walks out. Being new at this, my head instantly explodes into “OMG, OMG, IT’S MIKE ‘SCHOOL OF FRIGGIN ROCK’ WHITE”. He says hello, I calm down, and am now ready to watch.
A nice looking movie opens up and we see Peggy (Molly Shannon) going around with her dog in tow, in lots of different situations, including falling asleep with each other. So, the jist of the movie is about dog lovers, right? Wrong. I’m not going to give everything away, but the dog does die pretty early on. The movie is essentially about how this woman, now alone, copes with the loss and the emotional journey she is sent on as the movie progresses.
Don’t look too much into that last sentence though, as Year Of The Dog is hilarious. There are moments of pure comedy genius and utter depraved lunacy as well as a brilliant supporting cast.
Talking of the rest of the cast, there’s the fantastic John C. Reilly as Al the next door neighbour and potential love interest, seemingly sweet, but with an asshole hidden underneath, and the even better Peter Sarsgaard as another love interest Newt, a sweet and brilliantly played intelligent vegan. As well as these two there is the fantastically depressed Josh Pais as Peggy’s Boss Robin, the super-happy gossipy best friend Layla played ecstatically by Regina King and Peggy’s completely oversensitive brother and his wife, played superbly by Thomas McCarthy and Laura Dern, who’s last outing Inland Empire gained a zero mark from myself.
The cast is fantastic, the story is very well played out and the direction drops you right in, with comparisons to Garden State and Peep Show flowing to my head. Year Of The Dog is a brilliantly funny movie and was a great way for me to start the festival. Now, its flaws. Well, to be honest, it doesn’t really have any, it’s just that with that particular story, it could be portrayed exactly as it is and not much further. The end is spectacular, and while not glamorous or wishful, it is the best outcome, and the most potent one. It’s not the best movie of all time, and there is humour contained in the movie that not all audiences would laugh at, which means it will see limited success at the box office, but high success in audiences that venture out to see it.
In conclusion, it is a great movie, and one that I will add to my DVD collection as soon as possible. Mike White has again proved himself as a scriptwriter, but has now added ‘director’ to the list of things he is brilliant at.