Dog Park
*** GM
Starring: Luke Wilson, Natasha Henstridge, Janeane Garofalo, Bruce McCulloch, Kathleen Robertson, Kristin Lehman, Amie Carey, Gordon Currie, Harland Williams, Mark McKinney


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As a fan of The Kids in The Hall, Bruce McCulloch's name attached to this film made me buy it on video on discount without even watching it. That was a while ago, though, and I finally got around to watching it many moons later, as the story of a romantic comedy around a dog park didn't sound particularly compelling.

It's actually a little better than it sounds, although expecting Kids in the Hall style humor isn't advisable, despite Mark McKinney's goofy animal therapist popping up here and there. Andy (Luke Wilson) just got dumped by Cheryl (Kathleen Robertson), who ran off with Trevor (Gordon Currie) and his dog, and now he's wandering around looking for a relationship as good as Jeff (McCulloch) and Jeri's (Janeane Garofalo). Lorna (Natasha Henstridge) is newly single as well, dealing with her moron "relationship chain" friend Rachel (Amie Carey) and creepy but insightful guys like Callum (Harland Williams). They meet and tap dance around hooking up for a while, and then they finally do, since that's what happens in romantic comedies.

It's got a good mood going for it, though. The sense of freshly post-relationship depression and floundering is present throughout the film, complete with rebounds and half-hearted attempts at normalcy. It's a light comedy, but it feels about as dark as a romantic comedy can be without becoming twisted and 'edgy,' helped mostly by Jeri's relationship falling apart sadly at the end. You don't often see a sympathetic character feeling miserable and wronged at the end of a film.

The only truly bothersome performance is Amie Carey as Rachel. There's just something that feels amateurish about her line delivery, and her character just doesn't seem consistent. Luckily, she's not in the film all that much. McCulloch's performance is a bit iffy itself. Maybe he's not suited for dramatic moments with his history, but his semi-monotone manner of speaking makes him seem like he's trying really hard not to go into that annoying-kid character of his. The rest of the actors are understated and warm enough to make the film's mood work, including Kristin Lehman as Keiran, Andy's rebound relationship that seems ridiculous at first, but settles into an odd believability as an oddly incompatible match for Andy that tries to assume it will all work out anyway.

It's a small, quiet film that nonetheless manages to decently capture a specific point in one's life - the struggle to move on after being dumped hard.

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