Thursday, July 14, 2016

Movie Review: "Wiener-Dog" (2016)

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Director: Todd Solondz
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Four short stories looking at the lives of four groups of people connected by one single wiener-dog.

Of course critics like this movie.

Directed by Todd Solondz, who has made films like "Fear, Anxiety & Depression" and "Happiness," "Wiener-Dog" is a brief look at the lives of four different characters who are connected by one cute dachshund. If you are familiar with Solondz's work, you will know this is a happy and uplifting story about a cute little dog....of course that's not true because Solondz makes some of the most bleak films in cinematic history. This is a cynical, depressing movie about losers and shitty people who are miserable with their places in life or are just miserable people in general. It stars many indie mainstays, as well as a few Hollywood faithful with the likes of Julie Delpy, Tracy Letts, Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, and Ellen Burstyn. This is said to be a comedy, but we struggled to muster a chuckle throughout the film's 90 minute run time. Even as a dark comedy, the tone just doesn't deliver as it is far to bleak and dim and depressing, and quite frankly, unimaginable. "Wiener-Dog" is more dark and more dishonest than a black comedy. It's supposed to be this lesson in realism that involves a dog, but we found it to be over-exaggerated, callous, shallow, and uncomfortable. It's clear that Solondz exists as a director to make people feel this way on purpose, but if your life is really as bad as this movie says it is, well, you've got options. It's one of those movies that feels like it's wanting and trying so hard to be insightful and profound, yet to us, it feels completely dishonest and facile. Solondz does his best to shock the audience, whether it be from telling stories about a French poodle being raped by a mangy brown stray dog named Mohammed, or his showcasing of lingering and long tracking shots of bloody dog diarrhea, or its wholly unnecessary, sickening ending.

We get it. Life sucks. It's hard to live. Life is hard. Having a dog is hard. The dog is a metaphor. You're born and then you die, and this movie signifies a birth-to-death narrative. You're born, life happens, you've wasted away. Everyone dies. Trust us, we know people die without warning, without cause, and without fully living to their potential. The world is a fucking tragedy. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. We get it, you're so much smarter than us. Perhaps we're not Solondz's target audience, but like we've always said we're willing to give anything and everything the chance it deserves, but there is little redemption to be found in "Wiener-Dog." Only one out of the four segments, the one with Gerwig and Culkin, gives any sort of substance to the viewer, and even that segment feels trite. There are also continuity problems throughout the film as well, but this note is far too technical than this movie deserves. Solondz is only concerned with shocking and horrifying his audiences, so if that's your cup of tea, more power to you. Let us set the scene, though: there were 6 other people in the theater with us, and 3 of them walked out of this shit-show. Even with the cutest dog on the planet as its "star," this film made us want to kill ourselves with its negative, cynical outlook on life.

My Rating: 2/10
BigJ's Rating: 2/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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