Maybe you're related to one or perhaps you just dealt with one at a recent dinner party, but they're all over the place these days: the animal people. The ones who'll throw speeches at you about animal rights this and cruelty-free that -- and if you're someone who really loves chowing down on a cheeseburger or a chicken salad, those folks can sometimes come off as obnoxious, pious and fairly insufferable. But y'know, those people do have their heart in the right place -- and more often than not they're absolutely right about certain important things. What Mike White's Year of the Dog does is give you a little perspective into how an animal lover can transform into a fairly militant activist.
What seems trivial and silly to one person might be really important to another, and who are we to dismiss someone else's fiery passion? Plus, c'mon, who doesn't love dogs? Admirable for the way in which it's both snarky and sincere, Year of the Dog looks and feels like a fairly standard "situation" comedy. Molly Shannon plays a lonely-yet-chipper single woman who is clearly past her romantic prime, and one who spends her nights doting on a beautiful little doggy called Pencil. But when her beloved canine ingests some poison during a late-night pee-pee run, poor Peggy is beside herself with grief. It's a testament to writer/director Mike White's talents that Peggy's miseries are shown as humorously tragic, but also simply, plainly painful.