Synopsis: A dachshund passes from oddball owner to oddball owner, whose radically dysfunctional lives are all impacted by the pooch.
Release Date: July 1, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The rationale that writer/director Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse) gives for Wiener-Dog is simple; he had never made a dog movie.
The title character in Wiener-Dog is a little dachshund who moves through a handful of different owners, each with their own story. The little canine’s adventures include living with a family whose son is a cancer survivor, taking a road trip with a compassionate vet tech and her long-lost boyfriend, hanging around with an aging film professor, and shacking up with an elderly blind lady whose granddaughter takes advantage of her kindness. Each story is a completely independent tale, with the little pup playing the role of the common thread that ties the movie together.
So essentially, Wiener-Dog is an anthology movie that follows the little dog around for ninety minutes or so. As should be expected from an anthology, the stories are a bit uneven – the vet tech road trip segment is easily the best, while the elderly woman one is the worst. It starts out well enough, with the strongest segments at the beginning, but it loses steam in the second half when it stops being about the doggie and starts being about the flat, one-dimensional people. Quite honestly, the most entertaining areas of the film are the most nonsensical, such as a scene where the vet tech and her boyfriend pick up a randomly placed mariachi band on the side of the road, or a strategically placed intermission montage that is packed full of shots of the star dachshund green-screened into fantastic and neat-o locations and situations.
One word of warning; if anyone is planning on catching Wiener-Dog with the hopes of seeing scene after scene of a cute little dachshund running around being adorable, don’t. Not only will you be disappointed, you’ll be devastated. Yes, there are delightful scenes of the sweet pup just being a sweet pup, but a lot of the trials and tribulations that the poor dog faces over the course of his adventures are nothing short of heartbreaking. Todd Solondz may have been trying to make a “dog movie,” but Wiener-Dog is not a movie for dog lovers. At all.
Wiener-Dog is a frustrating experience. As a writer and a filmmaker, Todd Solondz is capable of much better. The cast is trapped by the film’s mediocre script. And the lovable title character is, well, let’s just say severely mistreated. Wiener-Dog is not a poorly made movie, it’s just not all that enjoyable, either.
Todd Solondz puts together a pretty remarkable cast for his “dog movie.” Wiener-Dog stars such heavy hitters as Greta Gerwig (Mistress America), Danny DeVito (The Lorax), Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), and Zosia Mamet (“Girls”). All of the cast does their best with what is given to them, but the real standout is Greta Gerwig, who plays a grown-up version of Dawn Wiener, the protagonist portrayed by Heather Matarazzo in Solondz’s 1995 breakthrough film Welcome to the Dollhouse. DeVito is pretty good as a washed-up screenwriter-turned-college professor as well. The material in Wiener-Dog is a bit below most of the cast members’ pay grade, and the acting does manage to keep the film afloat when it needs to, but in many places, particularly in the segment with Burstyn and Mamet as grandmother and granddaughter, the talented cast is wasted. The actors in Wiener-Dog deserve better than the hand that they are dealt.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Todd Solondz
- Producer(s): Megan EllisonChristine Vachon
- Screenwriter(s): Todd Solondz
- Cast: Keaton Nigel Cooke (Remi)Tracy Letts (Danny)Julie Delpy (Dina) Greta Gerwig (Dawn Wiener)Kieran Culkan (Brandon)Connor Long (Tommy)Bridget Brown (April)Charlie Tahan (Warren)Danny DeVito (Dave Schmertz)Ellen Burstyn (Nana)Zosia Mamet (Zoe)Michael James Shaw (Fantasy)
- Editor(s): Kevin Messman
- Cinematographer: Edward Lachman
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Amela Baksic
- Casting Director(s): Jessica Daniels
- Music Score: James Lavino
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA