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13th February
written by Steph
More like "Year of the Crazy Lady"

More like "Year of the Crazy Lady"

It should come as no surprise that Tony & I are huge dog people (in that we love dogs, not that we are part dog.  See this Demetri Martin clip for clarification.).  Because of this love, we tend to watch a lot of movies that feature dogs, and coo along adoringly when those adorable little canine scamps turn up onscreen.  Through this movie-watching exercise, I’ve come to believe that movie makers exploit our love of dogs, namely by making some truly horrendous films that ostensibly revolve around dogs or the love of same.  I mean, for every My Dog Skip, you have a Must Love Dogs, or a Beverley Hills Chihuahua, or even a, you guessed it, Year of the Dog.  [For the record, Tony & I have not seen Beverley Hills Chihuahua, nor do we have any plans to do so]  These are some bad movies, people, so be forewarned and avoid them if you either: a) love dogs; b) love movies; or c) love yourself. The premise of Year of the Dog, as listed on the Netflix site is pretty vague, but the general idea is that Molly Shannon plays a down-on-her-luck secretary whose dog dies.  But rather than it being all sad, her dog’s passing actually opens her up for transformation and a whole new life.  That seems pretty innocuous, right?  I thought it would be a cute little comedy about how dogs enrich our lives, with a little bit of a feel-good “new chapter in one’s life” denouement to round things out.  I could not have been more wrong.  That little blurb from Netflix in no way hints at the fact that Molly Shannon’s character kind of undergoes a psychotic break after losing her pet and begins to behave in a way that is not proportional in its response.  I know from personal experience how hard it is to lose a pet, so I know how tough that situation truly is.  But wow did Molly’s character go overboard in her rebound. See, after losing her beloved dog Pencil, Molly winds up adopting a new dog who has severe behavioral problems, and who ultimately needs to be put down.  This is tragic and upsetting, undoubtedly, but her subsequent response to this is to go to the local animal control center and adopt ALL of the dogs that they are planning to put down that day.   Which means she winds up adopting 15 dogs or something insane.  Now, Tony & I frequently visit our local Humane Association on the weekends to play with the puppies and give some of the dogs there a little TLC, and yes, we often become attached and wish we could take dogs home with us.  Heck, we joke about how we would have about 15 dogs by now if we brought one home each time we went to the shelter.  But the thing is, WE DON’T ACTUALLY BRING THE DOGS HOME WITH US, BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE IRRESPONSIBLE AS WE ARE NOT EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THAT MANY DOGS EFFECTIVELY.  But anyway, back to the movie, when someone rightfully reports her to animal control and this new crop of dogs gets taken away from her, Molly goes on a rampage and tries to kill her neighbor, who she is convinced turned her in [for what it’s worth, he probably didn’t, but that’s beside the point!]. And let’s talk about this little storyline, shall we?  See, Molly’s dog, Pencil, died because he got out of her yard one night and wound up ingesting something poisonous.  She winds up finding out that her neighbor had left his garage door open and the dog had eaten snail repellent or something like that.  So she accuses her neighbor of killing her dog.  Even though Pencil was her responsibility, and she had let him out in the middle of the night to pee, and then when he didn’t want to come back in, rather than making sure he did, she just locked him outside and went to bed.  Now, of course having your relatively young dog die from poison is TERRIBLE, but this is why you have to supervise your animals.  Also, dogs like to dig, and dogs like to chew stuff, and they like to run away and frolic, because they are dogs and that is what they do.  As Tony reminds me all the time when Rory attacks a pile of Kleenex when we’re out, or Emmy won’t do one of her tricks, they don’t do this to spite us, they do it because they’re dogs and that’s what they do.  Sure Molly’s neighbor should probably keep the poisonous chemicals safely locked up, but ultimately Pencil was Molly’s responsibility. OK, so all of this is upsetting and depressing in its own right, but we haven’t even gotten to my real beef (pun intended?) with the movie.  After Pencil dies, Molly starts hanging out with a (clearly gay) man who is a vegan, and in an attempt to get him to like her, she too decides to go vegan.  I think that this is kind of the wrong reason for one to completely overhaul one’s lifestyle, but becoming a vegan is not in and of itself harmful to anyone, so more power to her.  If she doesn’t want to eat eggs, fine.  But of course, as you may have guessed from the preceding paragraphs, of course things start to spiral, such that Molly winds up giving her relatives the gift of “sponsored” animals for Christmas, takes her niece to the facility where her sponsored chicken lives while her parents are away and then wants to take this 7-year old girl to a poultry processing plant to show her the evil side of the animal world, and also “drowns” all of her sister-in-law’s fur coats in the bathtub on a drunken New Year’s Eve bender.  And it gets worse:  she begins soliciting signatures for petitions against animal testing while at work, and then actually starts sending checks to organizations that she FORGES with the signature of her BOSS.  Of course, she gets caught and is fired from her job. It seems like she got her come-uppance, right?  But no.  She winds up getting her job back (due to her previous years of loyal service to the company), and then decides that what she is meant to do with her life is to travel around and protest animal injustices everywhere.   And, you know, that’s fine too, but what really got my goat (again, pun intended?) was how there’s this closing monologue about how everyone has their own way of showing love and own sources of love, some get it from their family, some get it from there work, and this was her way.  As if to say that the events that had gone on through the rest of the movie were totally reasonable rather than TOTALLY INSANE.  It’s fine if you want to campaign for animal rights, but maybe you shouldn’t embezzle and commit fraud to do so.  And maybe you shouldn’t try to kill your neighbor because you think he got your 15 dogs (12 above the legal limit) impounded.  These are not proportional or acceptable ways of channeling one’s love or one’s grief!  I just really thought it was completely out of line to suggest that this woman was anything other than mentally ill or that her actions were in any way justifiable.  It’s like the extremist activists who send letter bombs to animal researchers, or who free animals from testing labs; it’s completely irrational and logically untenable.  Do you know what happens when you set domesticated animals free?  They die.  Because they don’t know how to survive in their “natural” environment (FYI: a monkey’s natural environment is nowhere in North America).  Also, people who do animal testing don’t do it for fun or because they like “torturing” animals.  I guess Molly Shannon’s character can go dress up with PETA and liken the American Kennel Club to the KKK.  Seriously, crazy. So bottom line, whether you like animals or hate animals, don’t watch this movie because it is depressing and frustrating if you’re a thinking person.  I’m sorry, but none of the things that Molly Shannon does throughout the movie can be excused or lauded for being acts of love.  They are desperate cries for help and the fact that a film-maker would try to glorify that type of behavior, or even imply that it is acceptable, really bothers me.  I love animals, I really do, but this type of behavior benefits no one. In other news, I will no longer be able to root for Mike White (the film’s writer and director) when he competes on this season of The Amazing Race, because it is clear that he is a whackadoo. Rating: 2 out of 5


  1. 02/14/2009

    This movie sounds terrible! I am assuming that it was supposed to be a comedy. The plot just sounds like it just kept getting weirder and weirder. Not one I will be watching anytime soon.

  2. 02/14/2009

    Yes I think it was supposed to be one of those “indie” comedies. But what I’ve been finding with those is that they actually aren’t so much funny as they are wildly depressing (e.g., “Eagle vs. Shark”, “Junebug”). Avoid at all costs!

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