Wiener Dog – REVIEW

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The Editor is a keen dog lover, which may explain why the RSPCA are always knocking at his door, (‘Stop it’ – Ed), and as well as a keen dog groomer, and by that we don’t mean that he arranges illicit meetings over internet chat rooms with them (‘You’re fired’ – Ed) but he can often be seen taking his dog for a walk through the park. Like any dog owner he often returns home with his pockets full of bags of fresh dog poo which regretfully he forgets about remembering only when he puts his jacket back on and plunges his hands back into the pockets. It’s for this reason that no one in the office will now shake hands with him.

This week’s release ‘Wiener Dog’ is sure to divide audiences also as it s a typically provocative film by director Todd Solondz. A portmanteau film made up of several stores all connected by the same dachshund who runs through all of them. The first story sees him having been bought by a father for his son who is recovering from treatment for cancer. From the outset the dog causes upset with the mother going off on one as to who actually is going to look after it, take it for walks etc. It’s a touching tail …um…sorry tale…. initially between the boy and the dog and like the film it’s a slight story made better by its performances with Tracy Letts as the short tempered father. From here it segues into the weaker story starring Greta Gerwig followed by the story with Danny Devito, who we never see enough of these days as a film professor who had one script produced but is derided by his know-all students. Finally Ellen Burstyn and Zosia Mamet are superb in their respective roles as stubborn grandma and absent grandchild who only visits when she wants something from her.

Fans of Todd Solondz are more likely to enjoy this as it is typical of his style that it is funny, poignant, provocative and shocking with 2 shots which are likely to appal or upset or both. There’s something of the John Waters school of taboo busting about his films, albeit with a better cast, that lift it above the sometimes puerile intention to shock and includes a novelty joke intermission.  At 90 minutes this is an almost inconsequential film saved by several performances but for Solondz’ fans this will suffice.

Here’s the trailer:

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