Film Review: Realistic, Difficult Lives Are Exposed in ‘Wiener-Dog’

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CHICAGO –Director Todd Solondz has made a career out of not shying away from the most uncomfortable negativities of life. From extreme disconnection (“Happiness”) to pedophilia (“Life During Wartime”) to the sad rejection of pre-teen years (“Welcome to the Dollhouse”), Solondz pulls no punches. He achieves that harsh intent yet again in “Wiener-Dog.” Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This is an anthology film, about a group of disparate people who somehow own the same female dachshund dog (the long bodied wiener dogs). It contains a quasi-sequel to “Welcome to the Dollhouse” (1995) – with Greta Gerwig portraying main character Dawn Wiener as an adult – and it tests the patience of any dog loving person as the pooch goes through a series of sorrowful circumstances. But this is what real life is, and Solondz to his credit is not afraid to expose it cinematically. It is tough stuff, and also tends toward the cynical dark side of human nature, yet in addition it scores as is an engrossing portrait of differently challenged personalities, and does contain a bit of hope.

A brown female dashshund “Wiener-Dog” is dropped off at a shelter, and is immediately adopted by the family of father Danny (Tracy Letts), mother Dina (Julie Delpy) and boy Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke). The boy loves the dog, but an unfortunate canine illness has Danny taking her back to the shelter. Before she can be put down, she is rescued by Dawn Wiener (Greta Gerwig).

Dawn hooks up with an old school nemesis Brandon (Kieran Culkin) and goes on a visit to his developmentally disabled brother. She leaves the dog with the brother, and when we see the dachshund next she is cared for by lonely Dave Schmerz (Danny DeVito). After a shocking incident, the dog ends up with elder retiree Nana (Ellen Burstyn), dealing with her granddaughter Zoe (Zosia Mamet). It’s a dog’s life in these different stories.

“Wiener Dog” is currently in limited release, including Chicago. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Tracy Letts, Julie Delpy, Kieran Culkin, Zosia Mamet and Keaton Nigel Cooke. Written and directed by Todd Solondz. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Wiener-Dog”

Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke) Entertains the Title Character in ‘Wiener-Dog’
Photo credit: Amazon Studios

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Wiener-Dog”

AR323's picture

This film

I have to respectfully disagree, I went to the advance screening of this film and found the exact opposite. The director took too long on certain shots (ie: the dog pooh shot in the 1st act, and the final act where Ellen Byrstun’s confronted by a barrage of would-be past life combined with the exaggerated death scene for the wiener dog), and the .5 dimensional depth of the characters. Case-in-point, Julie Deepley as the sad sack mom to the sick kid. Plus she’s like 52, how the hell is she having a kid that young. Plus she talked more like a German than a Frenchman when it came to life and death. Now I’ve meet Frenchmen, and they’ve a surplus of passion even their A-holes. Also, I found the very last scene to be ridiculous. The taxidermy job on the dog was not shoty but God-awful, and the bark was just unnecessary, just a trick by the director to so his lack of skill and talent since being sarcastic and ironic for its own sake is merely vulgar.
I found it to be a ZERO stars out of FIVE.
Gus R Gonzalez

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