“Year of the Dog,” review by Susan Granger

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

One of life’s tragedies that we all face is surviving a pet. That’s the subject of this quirky, tender puppy-love comedy by writer Mike White, making his directorial debut.

While shy executive assistant Peggy (Molly Shannon) dutifully puts up with her heartless, spineless boss (Joseph Pais), her sex-obsessed co-worker (Regina King), her obsessive brother (Tom McCarthy) and his fashion-conscious, uptight wife (Laura Dern), she finds herself totally isolated when her precious beagle Pencil strays away and eats something toxic.

Grief-stricken and love-starved, she has dinner with a boorish macho neighbor (John C. Reilly), only to discover that he shot his own dog while they were hunting moose. Then one day she gets a call from Newt (Peter Sarsgaard), an androgynous, vegan animal-rights activist who works at the vet, and he inquires if she’s be interested in adopting a rescued dog before the city of Los Angeles puts him down. She is – and does – but that’s only the beginning. Before long, she’s inundated with abused, abandoned death-row pooches, only to discover, at long last, what truly makes her happy.

Mike White – who wrote and acted in “School of Rock,” “The Good Girl,” “Chuck and Buck” – hasn’t quite decided whether this is a character study of wild-eyed zealotry, a farce or a humorous sitcom, so the pacing is uneven. But Molly Shannon’s minimalist performance as a distraught woman pushed over the edge is wonderful. After six seasons on “Saturday Night Live,” she deftly taps into Peggy’s anguish, desperation and neediness – never giving a hint that, off-screen, she’s actually allergic to dogs. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Year of the Dog” is a semi-satirical, sentimental 7. For dog lovers, it could be a best-in-show.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 0 Flares ×

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.