16 July 2007 | flashdanz_Asspantz
This is a great little film.
I am actually tempted to call it "heartwarming" though I've never used that term to compliment a film. Each character is a balance between an exaggerated stereotype and frighteningly accurate portrayal. White treats his characters with subtlety and respect while allowing them to be as ridiculous as we modern humans are. Laura Dern is a genius with her painful and precise rendition of a sterile post-modern mother. As are all the leads; wonderful to see so-called "character actors" given space to breathe. If you were looking for "school of rock" or "orange county" you may be disappointed, but if you were intrigued and moved by "chuck & buck" "year of the dog" might hit the mark. This film felt, at times, reminiscent of the work of Todd Solondz, in that the characters can be both absurd and realistic simultaneously, and (as I see it) both directors are careful to avoid exploiting their characters. White's story is more traditional and warm than most of Solondz's work, though, many viewers will likely find "dog" exclusively "too depressing" or just "funny", and probably not "funny" enough.
Overall: Really lovely and well crafted little film that is both serious and silly, without being melodramatic or wacky: a triumph considering the subject matter. It has already landed a spot near the top of my short list of favorite recent films (its a desert out there these days, this is a glass of pink lemonade).