The lives of ordinary people, all involving a cute dog
"Wiener-Dog" (2016 release; 90 min.) brings the story of a wiener-dog as she is passed on from caretaker to caretaker. As the movie opens, we see someone drop off Wiener-Dog at the shelter, and in the very next scene, a dad surprises his young son, a cancer survivor we are told, with the gift he's always dreamt of: having his very own pet. Unfortunately, the dog must first be house-broken and that is easier said than done, to the desperation of both the young boy and his parents. Then one day, the boy feeds granola bars to the dog, upsetting the dog's stomach... At this time we're not even 15 minutes into the movie but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest project from independent writer-director Todd Solndz ("Welcome to the Dollhouse", "Dark Horse"). Here he bring perhaps his most accessible story yet: how a cute-looking, just plain adorable, wiener-dog goes from household to household, where we get a glimpse of those people's lives. There are essentially 4 unrelated stories with Wiener-Dog as the common thread. The movie is helped immensely by, of course, the cute looking dog, but equally so by a number of stellar acting performances. In the first story, the young boy reminded me of Fred Savage, Wonder Years-era. Julie Delpy plays his mom. In the second segment, Greta Gerwig thankfully stays MILES away from her usual Diane Keaton-like NY young neurotic woman, and instead gives a wonderful turn as the seemingly lost young woman. Gerwig plays it with a vulnerability not previously seen from here. In the third segment Danny DeVito plays the lead, while in the last segment, Ellen Burstyn reminds us why she still has the acting chops. I must admit that I knew next-to-nothing about the film prior to seeing it (other than it featured a really cute dog), and I was very pleasantly surprised by it. It is billed as a 'comedy', but frankly, I don't think it was a comedy at all (there certainly aren't any laugh-out-loud moments in it). Instead it is a peek at ordinary people's lives, including their struggles and insecurities. And how many movies have you seen lately where there is an actual (if short) intermission? Yes, indeed!
"Wiener-Dog" premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim, and Amazon Studies (yes, them again) snapped it up right away. The movie opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and I couldn't wit to see it. The Friday early evening screening was attended so-so, and I can only hope that this had to due with the picture-perfect weather we are enjoying here today. If you are interested in a slightly off-center movie about ordinary people's lives, including having a cute dog, I'd suggest you check this out, be it in the theater or on Amazon Instant Video (simultaneous release), or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Wiener-Dog" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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