Writer/director Mike White is a bit of a mad genius. His humour is an acquired taste and often makes people uncomfortable. If youíve seen Chuck and Buck or his brief foray into television Cracking Up, youíll know what I mean.
Year of the Dog is similar. Itís not really a comedy per se. Itís definitely funny but you wonít be laughing out loud. Itís more like the kind of film that makes you smile, even if it also makes you squirm. Itís the kind of film that takes pleasure in the oddities of life and manages to find humour in the pain.
Watch for the little stray bits of humour that come along unexpected. For example, there is subtle wordplay around characters who are named Spade and Newt. These are left there hanging in the air, waiting for you to pick up on them if you wish but never shoved down your throat.
Molly Shannon is brilliant as a woman on the verge. Her pouch dies and her life teeters over the edge. Itís a bit insane but itís a pleasant journey. I appreciated that the film doesnít mock its subject. Instead it lovingly pokes fun and helps us appreciate her dilemmas. Shannon remains accessible even as she starts to go off the deep end.
Also brilliant is Regina King, playing against type as a big hair girl obsessed with finding Mr. Right for her and for all her friends. Sheís the most laugh-out-loud part of the film. Iím not used to seeing her do such broad comedy but sheís great at it.
Year of the Dog isnít for everyone. Itís not the kind of film that is going to have them rolling in the isles. However this womanís journey into madness is worth checking out. Sometimes a chuckle is more satisfying than a guffaw anyway.