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Year of the Dog


Stars: Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Peter Sarsgaard, John C Reilly, Regina King, Josh Pais, Thomas McCarthy

Director: Mike White

This is a dog of a movie all right, but not quite in the way the makers intended. Peggy (Shannon, a supporting actress out of her depth) is a mentally fragile woman who lives (and sleeps) with her beagle, Pencil. When Pencil is poisoned, Peggy is inconsolable; she tries adopting an unwanted Alsatian, but that gets puts down for killing another dog.

Failing to save him on doggy Death Row, Peggy adopts the other 15 dogs there, causing her neighbour (Reilly), a one-time suitor who soon shied away, to call the authorities. By this time a certifiable nutcase, Peggy attacks him with a knife.

This woman deserves everything coming to her. She should be locked away and for some time, while she's given psychiatric treatment - yet she is clearly the heroine of this misbegotten film. Admittedly Reilly is a macho frightmare who keeps moose heads on his wall, and shoots endangered species 'so that you can get one before they're all gone.' And the guy (Sarsgaard) from animal welfare whom she also dates has a nightmare that 'I was being attacked and raped by two bull mastiffs.' They're all people you would keep clear of after one acquaintance.

A film that goes to the dogs in more ways than one, this unbelievably bad piece, which makes determined but highly resistible attempts to be cute, may be one of the worst and certainly most reprehensible I've suffered. Dog-lovers who really must see it should take a sickbag for the end-credit song Chickens and Children Know It All. Tow this one to the pound.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by de Luxe.
97 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Aug 2007