When Devon, a 10-year-old girl, forges a friendship with Trent, a 21-year-old outsider who mows the neighborhood lawns, things suddenly get very complicated and private.When Devon, a 10-year-old girl, forges a friendship with Trent, a 21-year-old outsider who mows the neighborhood lawns, things suddenly get very complicated and private.When Devon, a 10-year-old girl, forges a friendship with Trent, a 21-year-old outsider who mows the neighborhood lawns, things suddenly get very complicated and private.
saving graces? An adorable Mischa Barton is excellent as curious young Devon-- she was certainly talented at this age, though that might be hard for some to believe since she's inexplicably worsened with age (or laziness?). You might find flaws with her in Lawn Dogs if you're searching for them, but it's probably because you can see the Marissa Cooper in her and because Devon is a cliché construction: precocious youth represents innocence, revolts against the hypocrisy surrounding her. I've seen it, read it, heard it before, and never before did I have to roll my eyes with pseudo-evocative comments like "I don't like children. They smell like TV". A 10-year-old abstracting via synesthesia to get her disillusioned point across? That's abusing any willingness I had left with this movie to suspend my disbelief. But that's not her fault. Overall she's endearing, engaging, even funny, which makes her weekly exhibitions of "acting" on The OC all the more unforgivable. Of course, the #1 reason to watch this movie is Sam Rockwell, who I have yet to see give an uninspired performance in anything. Always bold, unusually brilliant, he'll strangely affect you whether you want him to or not. It's actors like him who make you realize why you love the movies. The relationship between Barton & Rockwell's characters is the third saving grace. Read: the problems with this film do not lie in the performances.
I'm not going to argue with anyone if they love the movie, there may be moments that resonate with you. But like it for it's strengths and not because you're mistaking well-shot moments of quiet insipidness for moments of meaningful poignancy. If I had seen it 10 years ago when I was 13 and just starting to consistently watch indies then I might have enjoyed it more. But I've seen enough to know that Lawn Dogs chews up & spits out ideas & techniques pilfered from preexisting offbeat movies without actually having any real insights of its own. The overt symbolism between class differences is so obvious it's insulting, and comments meant to be profound are executed with as much depth & insight as angsty teen poetry. Now let's count the painfully obvious cliché's, shall we?
1) guy from wrong side of the tracks as society's scapegoat 2) unlikely relationship between kindred spirits: this usually comes in the form of crossing age, gender, & class differences 3) Projecting a myth/fable/fairy tale/work of literature/history lesson as a conscious allusion to the themes & realities of the film. Yeah, I read several versions of Baba Yaga (also known as Bony Legs) when I was younger and it doesn't work so well here as, say, the use of "Peter Pan" in "ET" or countless other movies where this technique is used. 4) precocious youngster represents natural goodness & guides the action of the story 5) manicured lawns and pristine suburban sprawl represent falseness, superficiality, a loss of individuality
None of these would be remotely problematic if they were better executed with some originality. Think how well the show "Weeds" pulls off #5. But I digress
Lawn Dogs says little and means even less. This movie is like a sentimental blubbering loner who sits, cries, whines, but is never for a moment aware enough to know why. You take an interest, you feel kind of bad...but in the long-run you're not really sure why on earth you're supposed to care.
- Feb 17, 2006