I was flipping channels a few nights ago, and one of the movie channels was showing a movie called Dog Park. Well, clearly this was in my purview of interest, so I PVR’ed it.
I knew it was a bad sign that it had “famous names” in the credits, and yet I had never heard of it. And true to this warning, it really was very bad movie. It scored 4.9 on IMdB, and 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. (Frankly, I’m surprised it scored that high.) It was even badly named; though some of the action takes place in a dog park, not enough of it does to consider it the focus of the movie.
IMdB calls it a “sex comedy,” while RT lists it under “comedy.” I think they were shooting for “romantic comedy,” and if so they shot themselves in the foot. Andy, played by Luke Wilson before he was really famous, is pining for Cheryl (Kathleen Robertson), who left him for Trevor (Gordon Currie), until he meets Lorna (Natasha Henstridge), who used to date Trevor until he was stolen by Cheryl. Lorna, however, refuses to be interested even though Andy proves what a stellar guy he is by holding her hair while she repeatedly throws up on their first “date” (if that’s what you call it when a chick takes you back to her place after picking you up in bar). He even sends her roses afterwards, which she promptly trashes (except for the single one she saves). Why she refuses to give him a chance, when he is clearly into her and she liked him enough intially to invite him over, is totally unclear. It has something to do with fear of relationships, I think.
Thus rejected by Lorna, Andy ends up with Kieran (Kristin Lehman), who bought him at charity bachelor auction. Kieran, however, is all about the physical, while Andy is about something deeper. Meanwhile he envies the relationship of his best friends, Jeri (Janeane Garofalo) and Jeff (Bruce McCulloch, who also wrote and directed this sorry mess), until he finds out that Jeff is actually having an affair with Rachel (Amie Carey), who, coincidentally, works with Lorna.
So what does any of that have to do with dog parks? Well, they all own dogs, you see! Lorna has a dog named Peanut, who refuses to come when called. Andy has a Sheltie named Mogli, whom Cheryl stole when she went to live with Trevor and is consequently suffering from emotional trauma due to overexposure to Cheryl and Trevor’s enthusiastic love life. The best part of the movie is the doggie psychologist, played with great camp by Mark McKinney, who is seeing both Mogli and Peanut. We only learn that Andy and Lorna have a mutual bond through Cheryl and Trevor when Andy, Lorna and Cheryl all meet up in good doctor’s waiting room. (Jeri and Jeff’s have two boxers, whom they call “the girls;” they are very well-balanced and don’t need therapy, although they do attend Dr. Cavan’s training school.)
There are a few scenes actually filmed in a dog park, though no park I can imagine. It looks like an enormous city park dedicated to dogs, rather than a fenced-in bit of a larger park. If you had a dog prone to bolting, you’d lose him there in the first five minutes. But while none of the characters or relationships in the movie have any authenticity, the behaviour of the people in the dog park rings true. In one scene, Jeri and Jeff search for a doggie deposit left in the dark, desperate to find it. Jeri even turns to the dog and asks, “Where did you leave it?” In another, one woman (I think it was Cheryl, but it could have been Kieran; all these characters seem the same to me) asks a woman in the park what her name is. The second woman freezes, holds her dog tighter in her arms, and replies, “I’m with Poppy.” Then she walks off. Andy explains, “At the dog park, it’s about the dogs.”
Well, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated. While we do tend to ask the dog’s name and breed before asking any personal details (like the name) of the owner, when asked for their names people generally answer. I expect more dogs, and more park, from a movie called Dog Park. Maybe I should turn the blog into a screenplay; excuse me while I call Uma Thurman and see if she’s available…..