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Year of the Dog

Has life left you a stray?

Needy human animals straining against the leash of emotional expectations make Mike White’s low-key Year Of The Dog more situation tragedy than situation comedy. But Molly Shannon’s bittersweet portrayal of its lonely canine-loving heroine, along with a passel of pups trying to steal the picture, make for a satisfying and funny, if ironic, comedy intended for lovers of either the beast and/or sophisticated laughs.Marvelously and subtly shot by cinematographer Tim Orr – who creates wonderfully shiny, sterile surfaces under which White agitates his characters – Year Of The Dog centers around Peggy (Shannon), an office assistant with a wide gummy smile who’s obsessively attached to her beagle, Pencil. When Pencil meets an untimely end, the guilt-wracked Peggy is left to find something to fill the void in her life, spent mostly doting on other people’s children, treating her co-workers to daily donuts and otherwise making no impression on anyone’s world but her own.The humans she does meet – asexual activist Newt (Peter Sarsgaard), her irritating super-mom sister-in-law Bret (Laura Dern) and her neurotic boss Robin (Josh Pais), all wonderfully portrayed – don’t offer much solace for Peggy. In a uniquely mismatched love interest, her increasing affinity for animals dooms her relationship with next-door neighbor and gun nut Al (John C. Reilly). So she goes to the dogs, literally and figuratively.White, who has had a long comedic pedigree as a screenwriter, with such films as School Of Rock, The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck, makes his directing debut here, and the result is a full realization of the ironic undertones in his previous work. It’s left to the individual viewer as to whether Peggy is simply a generous soul unappreciated by life or one so love-starved that animals fill the need she can’t satisfy through human contact.White is not a conventionally comic writer, and Year Of The Dog is not a conventional comedy; both are fatalistically funny and resigned to the concept of unhappiness but generous enough to accept whatever a character may need to do to avoid it.– John Anderson, Variety
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Directed by: 
Mike White
Running Time: 
Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Regina King, Peter Sarsgaard, Josh Pais, John C. Reilly
Screenplay by: 
Mike White

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