Dog Park

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 Hour and 31 Minutes

Reviewer: Jones
Grade: B

Here it is. The film critics around the world hailed as:

"THE film event of 1998!"


Okay. So maybe that was some other movie involving Shakespeare, or Ryan's privates that received that acclaim. But it had to be said for the sake of lunacy, if nothing else. What? You say this film came out in 1999? Well then I must have confused it with some kid seeing dead people, or a man knowing that he will be dead within a year's time. Regardless, "Dog Park" has all the intangibles of a great film. Dogs, a park, Natasha Henstridge, Luke Wilson, Janeane Garofalo, etc. Nothing but quality can come from such a film, right?

For the most part yes, but it could have been better. Although the same can be said for ninety percent of the movies ever made.

In most parts of the world if you want to find a significant other you a few options: bars, grocery stores, libraries and, if you’re really desperate, church. All other options should be exhausted before resorting to option number four. Nothing against you churchfolk, but it just doesn't really seem like a bastion of dating activity to me. Now let's get back to the matter at hand. In the town that this film languishes in, the local dog park (Do these places exist?) is the place to go if you want to meet your match. This is the place where our good friend Luke Wilson likes to hang out with his friend Janeane Garofalo and her dogs. He does this, because his girlfriend has just left him and taken his dog with her.

I don’t think anything could break a man more than having his woman AND dog leave him. How this man goes on living is beyond me. Maybe he manages due to the fact that one night at a singles bar, after eating his pea soup, he makes the acquaintance of Natasha Henstridge. She has just been dumped as well (You can tell this is a movie, because I don’t think there is a man living today who would be dumb enough to dump her). They go back to Luke’s place and just when things are getting hot and heavy, she decides to worship the porcelain god. Apparently she doesn’t hold her liquor to well. Embarrassed by her actions she leaves and begins avoiding Luke in every way that she can. Inevitably they will find a way to get together, but the fun is in seeing how they will get there.

It would be foolish to delve to deeply into a movie like this. It exists solely to entertain and it succeeds the majority of the time. The performances are what you would expect from a film like this. Luke Wilson deadpans every line in his wonderfully monotone manner. He even manages to refer to a night of sexual activity as being “ninja-fucked”. Natasha Henstridge need do nothing more than look gorgeous to fulfill her contractual responsibilities, but she manages to turn in a nice little performance that is much the same as her work in “The Whole Nine Yards”. Janeane doesn’t have a lot to do here, but she does well with what she has. She’s not in her usual cynical bastard mode here, which is a nice change of pace from what I’m used to seeing from her. I can’t say that there is anything terribly spectacular about the direction to speak of, but it doesn’t need to be. It merely does it’s job by sitting there and allowing the story to unfold in it’s own timely manner.

In the end “Dog Park” is a film that you have probably seen before in some way, shape, or form. Many scenes you have seen done before, such as the scenes involving the dog psychiatrist. They are mildly humorous, but they were done far better in “Down and Out In Beverly Hills”. The film does have enough inspired moments of it’s own that it should keep you entertained from beginning to end. Plus you even get to find out what it is to be “ninja-fucked”. With information like that contained within, I’m thinking that “Dog Park” is a film that I would not want to go through life without seeing at least once.