Year of the Dog, the latest film by director Mike White (Nacho Libre, School of Rock, The Good Girl) is a touching, funny tale about love, loss, and finding meaning in a meaningless world. No, really, it is -- just not in the cliched, melodramatic sense. The set-up of the film immediately calls to mind 2005's comedic smash hit, 40-Year-Old Virgin, but with a female lead instead of a guy. Where Virgin gave us a peek into the life of 40-year-old guy who decorates his apartment with new-in-box action figures and plays videogames by himself all the time, Year of the Dog gives us a window into the life of Peggy (Molly Shannon), a similarly-aged woman living alone with her beagle, Pencil in her starkly neat home.
One of the strengths of Virgin was that it never stooped to mockery of main character Andy (Steve Carrell), the sad sack who's never managed to get laid. Andy wasn't ugly, he didn't have horrible breath, and he wasn't a serial killer with mommy issues; he was just a normal guy who dressed neatly and had a neurotic fear of sex after several bad experiences trying to lose his virginity. Andy was like a lot of 30-and-40-something guys living alone or in their parents' basement apartment, mired in a world where computer games and internet chat take the place of a real social life. Likewise, in Year of the Dog, Peggy is never caricatured as a miserable old maid; she's just a woman for whom the progression of a relationship to marriage never happened.