Wiener-Dog (2016)


I don’t want to write about this movie, it had some promising moments, a few nice laughs but by the end of it all, everything has moped along to such a dreary and try-hard artsy encompassing view of the world, that it’s actually the opposite and rather a soulless and absurd product.

Coming home with a pet dog is Danny (Tracy Letts) who hopes the sausage dog will help their son’s progress. After a granola induced accident, Wiener-Dog is taken to the vets where veterinarian Dawn (Greta Gerwig) smuggles him away. She goes on a trip with Brandon (Kieran Culkin) and soon the pooch is into story number 3 with film school teacher Dave (Danny DeVito) before finding himself with the elderly Nana (Ellen Burstyn) who gets a visit from her granddaughter.

So, to start with the positives, of which there are just a small amount. Story #1 with the family trio has some funny points, for example the mother making up numerous stories about dogs, pregnancies and cremation to her son. Um…I guess the odd intermission starring the pup strolling in front of backdrops whilst music plays was quite strangely funny. Story #3 starts with a hope of the most interest, a New York based film school, comments on students, screenwriting and the industry are scripted well but then it’s over with a dog wearing a yellow dress and something else…which I won’t spoil for you if you do happen to waste your time seeing it.

What this movie and director Todd Solondz does frequently is take something either brimming with humour or life important and drag it out to an inch of it’s life so it’s neither funny or affirming anymore. Either that or he twists it so much with a weirdly wired black sense of comedy that you question what this movie is even trying to do or say. A case in point comes after Miss Wiener-Dog gets explosive diarrhoea which is amusing at the start but then a long tracking shot over pools of the liquid swiftly loses that initial comedic spark.

Another reason, for me at least why this film didn’t sit well is because there’s no connection. Aside from the first 2 stories, the characters don’t feel in any strong way linked. Solondz is probably making a statement that they’re connected by loss, despair or some other dejected emotion but we just skip from one short movie tale to another thanks to the dog and that’s that. Also, after watching the whole feature, there feels like there’s been absolutely zero point to any of what’s happened. It’s eccentric yet empty and the conclusion of the dog’s journey is cause of great and distasteful alarm.

Danny DeVito plays the grumbling professor well, his long time placement as a teacher wearing on his face as he hopes to get a new screenplay green-lit but knowing it’s never likely to happen is always felt as DeVito shuffles through his portion. Greta Gerwig gladly brings an element of sunshine into the world of the movie but is still quite muted on a random trip she takes with the similarly shuffling and muted Kieran Culkin. Ellen Burstyn and Zosia Mamet share a scene that has a more emotional and awkward family aura about it but by this point I felt void of interest like the movie feels void of direction.

I can safely say this is a film I will hopefully forget and never recommend but for fans of Todd Solondz’s work then this may be a movie you’ll enjoy, if that’s the word to use…which it isn’t.



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