Director: Todd Solondz
Writer: Todd Solondz
Cast: Keaton Nigel Cooke, Tracy Letts, Julie Delpy, Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Zosia Mamet, Ari Graynor
Seen on: 2.9.2016
Remi (Keaton Nigel Cooke) can’t believe his luck when his dad Danny (Tracy Letty) brings home a dog. Remi’s mother Dina (Julie Delpy) is less taken by Danny’s gift, fearing that she will be the one having to care for it. Pretty soon it becomes clear that it’s not going to work out for the dog in this family. And so begins a oddyssee for the little guy, from one weird owner to the next.
Wiener-Dog wasn’t great, but it was a decent film that was often very funny and sometimes a little too cruel. There are many things to like about it, but also a few things I didn’t like.
Wiener-Dog is divided in four parts and an intermission sequence between the first two and the second two. We do get shown how the dog gets from Remi to Dawn (Greta Gerwig), but then we don’t see the changes from owner to owner anymore and that was a pity. But it never hurt more than after the second episode where the film jumps into the extradiegetic intermission music video (starring the dog, of course). While that sequence is hilarious, it felt out of place here. We left the dog in a really good place with the couple Tommy (Connor Long) and April (Bridget Brown) who happen to have Down syndrome. We were cheated of the transition, but more importantly, it made the story of that couple unimportant and invalidated them as the dog’s owners and I can’t help but connect it to their disability. Even if it isn’t directly connected, it is definitely a missed chance.
This is particularly egregious because this film is generally lacking in diversity, it hurts. Here we’d have at least the chance to be more inclusive of disabled people, but Tommy and April are only important insofar as they relate to Brandon (Kieran Culkin) and Dawn. Otherwise the film is white and upper/middle class as far as the eye can see. There is one POC, Fantasy (Michael James Shaw), and he is simply a joke. That’s it.
Most of the time, the film works and is actually funny and touching. Although I wasn’t completely happy with the film’s sense of humor that is sometimes simply cruel. Even when it aims to be bittersweet, every once in a while, it will overstep and end up on the wrong side for me. Like with the story Dina tells Remi of her own dog that crossed over so many lines and I couldn’t just go along with it all the way.
In any case, the simple weirdness of the film, the great cast and the differences between the segments have enough to offer to make watching it worthwhile, even if you don’t fall completely in love with it.