Mike White adds director to his repertoire with this kind of heavy comedy that walks a fine line of being light hearted and fun, but is ultimately a very sad and tragic story. After having fairly good success with his writing career, White steps behind the camera for his latest script, and the results are a mixed bag. Everything is very static with the camera and is just kind of boring, and I am not one to point out a lazy camera, but I really noticed it, and 2/3 of the movie is just straight on shots with nothing fancy, which is fine, but his frames were just so uninteresting it was moderately distracting at time.
The film sends a great message and brings animal humanity to the screen in a lighter and entertaining way, with some nice humor along the way, but the film is very sad, and may be very tough to watch sometimes for dog lovers. Molly Shannon is great in the lead though and sells the dog loving single woman very well, without making her seem like a kooky crazy woman. She is just great at selling us on this woman who loves her dog dearly, and while being more than socially functional, just hasn’t found that special someone. After the opening scenes Molly Shannon’s character Peggy is set onto a new path of her life and she discovers a lot about herself as she goes along.
Her initial search is for a man, and John C. Reilly and Peter Sarsgaard both play possible suitors to great effect. Reilly is a scene stealer, per usual, and has some of the funniest scenes and lines in the movie. Sarsgaard creates such a unique and different character as well and is entertaining and fun to figure out what exactly he is looking for in his relationship with Peggy. Lauren Dern is also good as Peggy’s sister-in-law and plays that overbearing mother that just gets under your skin pitch perfect.
Peggy’s direction soon turns toward animal rights and that ultimately is the theme of the movie. The passion takes her down a path though that is a bit ridiculous at times, and a tad to out there on the believability side, and I think that hurts the film a bit that is full of such honest and real feelings throughout. In the end the movie gets back on track and sends home its message well; without ever being heavy handed throughout.
After further review, the film is definitely entertaining and worth watching once. If you are a fan of animals or you are looking for a fresh take on comedy you definitely should check this out. Though, don’t expect it to blow you away, besides