#REVIEW: “WIENER DOG”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Writer/Director Todd Solondz brings what is being referred to as a Sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse, Wiener-Dog is a heart warming story about how a small change can bring so much joy and love into life. The story focuses on a wiener-dog as he manages to enrich four separate lives/families as he moves from family to family in this beautifully-told cohesive story.
The Movie starts off with a family consisting of Danny (Tracy Letts), Dina (Julie Delpy) and their son Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke) as they adopted wiener-dog. It is apparent immediately that there is an ever growing tension between Danny and Dina and the dog seems to be a way of distracting Remi from the tensions in the house. The dog manages to do this, exactly as planned until something unfortunately goes wrong and he has to go to the vet who decides to put Weiner-Dog down. Thankfully though, Dawn (Greta Gerwig) who is an assistant at the vet steals weiner-dog and saves him while nursing him back to health. Oh her journey of self discovery with the dog, she runs into an old friend in the form of Brandon (Kieran Culkin). As their story ends, we next find wiener-dog in the care of struggling professor/screenwriter Dave Schmerz (Danny DeVito). After Schmerz gets frustrated with life, he uses the dog in a bad practical joke and the dog is removed from his care and ends up in the care of Nana (Ellen Burstyn) who is the shining light in her rather bleak and sad life. What makes Wiener-Dog such a magical and delightful Film is the fact that the Movie truly encompasses how much a life can be enriched by owning a pet that you can bond with and love unconditionally.
When looking at performances in a movie where each story is roughly 20 odd minutes the performances have to excel to carry the story, and thankfully they do. The tension that is quietly shown between Letts and Delpy is truly cringe worthy, in a good way, the audience can relate to what Remi is going through, and through Cooke’s performance the audience can understand what this dog truly means to him. As well through Gerwig and Culkin, the latter of which wants nothing to do with the former until he meets the dog truly shows how this innocent dog manages to bring such joy and happiness into the lives he manages to affect. DeVito who has always been fantastic goes back to his serious roots, falling on hardship and just trying to make the best out a truly rotten situation even if it means using the dog in a rather sick prank. Lastly, Burstyn who is always incredible continues to be incredible as it is her performance that speaks the highest volume of what a companion can do to someone who is suffering whether they want to admit it or not.
Wiener-Dog is a delightful Dark Comedy Indie that will delight audiences who are familiar with Solondz’s work and even the ones who are not. I can say, after seeing Wiener-Dog I look forward to watching more of Solondz’s work.
Mongrel Media release WIENER-DOG in theatres on Friday, July 8, 2016.