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'Year of the Dog' painfully funny

 

Last updated 5/17/2007 at Noon



In “Year of the Dog,” Peggy Sparke (Molly Shannon) ignites a fire in her office for the cause of unwanted dogs. Peggy is unlucky in love with men, but she’s loved at work for her dedication and flexible attitude. Robin (Josh Pais), her boss, is disconnected from anything not smelling of money and reminds Peggy to “get her head in the game” when her dog Pencil gets sick.

Why would anyone name their dog Pencil? Delve a lot deeper into the movie and you’ll ask questions certain to haunt your soul if you love animals. The movie stings so much you have to laugh so you won’t cry.

As you wait in the drive-thru to order your Chicken McNuggets because it’s all you can afford after filling your tank, ask this question: Does humanely ending the life of an animal so that it may be eaten harm the animal? Peggy Sparke would say, “Yes.” Most people believe chickens are dumb, but how many of us humans can lay “chicken bullets” or cock-a-doodle each morning at the same time to announce the beginning of a new day?

Some people quietly snap inside each time a braggart details the glories of ending an animal’s life on a well-deserved hunting trip. In “Year of the Dog” Al (John C. Riley), Peggy’s next door neighbor, fits that profile. How many well-worn single women have met a man like Al? He acts normal on the surface, maybe a couple of red flags, but nothing you can’t live with and then you go to his cave where he keeps his trophies. Peggy stands and takes all the animals mounted on the walls into her tender little psyche, saying nothing. She’s looking for love, Mr. Right, not a fight.

Instead, Peggy finds a way to help the animals after she meets Newt (Peter Sarsgaard), an SPCA adoption manager. Once Peggy gets to know Newt she realizes his personality borders on asexuality; he says he has to stay centered on his dogs and has no time for human love. Newt is not going to become her soul mate, but his cause becomes Peggy’s cause: Saving dogs. Newt becomes Peggy’s voice of reason as he tries to remind her, “People only have one dog because dogs need so much love and attention”.

Instead, Peggy Sparke becomes a hoarder. Her belief system turns into a disorder with an almost understandable excuse. The majority of hoarders are women, possibly because women have dependent personalities and who better to take care of helpless dogs whose kill dates have arrived. Surprisingly, Peggy regains her sanity filled with new passion to give voices to animals that have none.

Brad Pitt is an executive producer on this movie and we all know who he’s married to; she’s no dog. If your mantra is “Harm no living thing,” or you feel guilty even killing a housefly, you’ll be delighted with this movie and it will give you hope humanity may come to its senses.

 

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