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Year Of The Dog

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 96 Minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Some Suggestive References)

Starring: Molly Shannon, Laura Dern, Regina King, Tom McCarthy, Josh Pais, John C. Reilly, Peter Sarsgaard

Written and Directed by: Mike White

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Mike White and Actress Molly Shannon, A Special Breed Of Comedy: The Making Of Year Of The Dog, Being Molly Shannon, Mike White Unleashed, Special Animal Unit, Moviefone Unscripted, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Writer/Director Mike White, Insert Reel, Gag Reel, Previews

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (15 Scenes)

Released: August 28th, 2007

 

"Year Of The Dog" is given a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks quite nice and natural. It is a little on the soft side, and there are some edge halos and quite a bit of noise, but for the most part it looks quite natural. The transfer has a pretty clean look, with spot-on fleshtones and solid color saturation. The scenes that take place outdoors look pretty phenomenal, too. The print used is pristine, and detail is great too. It's not perfect, but given the film's small budget, this is still a fairly nice transfer.

 

The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is pretty good too, and like the transfer, is a bit on the soft side. This makes sense, given that this a character driven film and there's a decent amount of chatter. With that noted, the dialogue is clear and easy to hear. There isn't really any subwoofer use to speak of, and the surrounds are pretty minimal. There are some background sound effects that are featured in the rears now and then which helps the viewing experience, but there's nothing spectacular. Christophe Beck's score fares the best, as his relatively calm compositions ring nicely through the channels.

Also included is a Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital track, English subtitles, Spanish subtitles and English closed captioning.

 

Even though "Year Of The Dog" opened and closed pretty quickly in theaters, this DVD is pretty packed. First up is an Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Mike White and Actress Molly Shannon. This is a very pleasant commentary, as White and Shannon share a lot of production anecdotes. White talks about cuts he made in the editing room, working with the actors and his approach to the visual stylings of his directing debut. Shannon offers quite a few compliments along with White, and to White's credit, he pegs Shannon with questions that discusses her preparation techniques. There's a good deal of joking on the commentary, and White has an impeccable memory about details of the shoot. This is a very nice and insightful discussion about the making of the film from two talented people. Well worth a listen if you liked the film, or are a fan of White and/or Shannon.

A Special Breed Of Comedy: The Making Of Year Of The Dog is a nice featurette about the creation of the film that lasts about sixteen minutes. Mike White talks about his inspiration for the movie, and that it was a cathartic way to get over a cat that he cared for that died. White also talks about what makes his movie stand apart - particuarly the kinds of characters and it's more adult focus. Molly Shannon also throws in some insights about her character, while John C. Reilly and Regina King also join the fray to talk about their roles and Mike White's sensibilities. Peppered throughout the featurette are behind-the-scenes footage and clips from the movie. Very well done.

Being Molly Shannon is a four minute piece about the actress, highlighting some of her past work (mainly from some of those SNL films) but mainly she discusses her approach to acting and her transition into having a lead role in "Year Of The Dog," as well as her hopes for the future. Mike White is also interviewed and gives praise to Shannon. Nicely done, but do we really need text at the end telling us that the two Shannon films featured in this featurette are available for purchase?

Mike White Unleashed is another short featurette, this time focusing on Mike White. All the actors praise White's talent (as well as producer Ben Lenclair), but White takes the stage here and is candid about working. He talks about his love of writing, and how and why he was apprehensive about taking the director's chair for awhile. Clips from the film and on-the-set footage help pad things out a bit too.

Special Animal Unit is a fun little featurette about the movie's dog trainers. Molly Shannon and Mike White talk about the film's animal trainers and the work they do, and then we meet the head animal trainer Urusla Brauner. Brauner talks about her recommendations for dogs, and praises the pooches. Aren't these dogs so irresistable?

Moviefone Unscripted is another piece lasting about seven minutes, and I'm guessing this appeared on the Moviefone website. The two ask each other questions back and forth, some submitted by moviegoers. In comparison to the other featurettes on the DVD, this one is a bit repetetive as it features a lot of the same information (i.e. why Shannon wanted to do the movie, White's inspiration). Still, it's not a bad watch as the filmmaker and actress have a fun interplay and White talks about common threads in his writing.

There are several Deleted Scenes (in non-anamorphic widescreen), totaling about twelve minutes each (one is actually an extended scene). The scenes are nice and further showcase Shannon's talent (and more moping for Peggy's character), but really don't add much to the film. Mike White offers Optional Commentary on the scenes, and gives good reasonings in why he made the cuts.

Rounding out the disc is an Insert Reel (clips of scene inserts strung together), a three minute Gag Reel (not too shabby) and your typical Previews for other titles.

 

"Year Of The Dog" is a well-written and well-acted dramedy with lots of human truths, and a lovely performance by Molly Shannon that truly shows her range. The DVD, like the movie, makes quite a good showing: a fine 5.1 mix, a good transfer and a really entertaining array of extras that cover key components of the film. This quirky title may not appeal to all filmgoers, but if you are a pet lover and have dealt with relationship quirks, you'll be sure to relate. Fans of Mike White and Shannon shouldn't miss it, and if the movie sounds interesting to you, then be sure to rent it.