Directed by Bruce McCulloch
Review by Matt Heffernan
"The Kids in the Hall" was a great sketch comedy show, in the tradition of "Monty Python's Flying Circus". The five players in the group have now gone on to other things, with varying degrees of success. Dog Park is the first feature film directed by alumnus Bruce McCulloch.
Luke Wilson plays Andy, a guys who just broke up with his girlfriend. He is mostly upset because she has taken custody of his dog, Mr. Mowgli. He is depressed, so he goes to a bar, where he meets Lorna (Natasha Henstridge), another new entry to the single world. She is drinking heavily, and goes back to his place, where she throws up, and leaves embarrased.
Andy sends Lorna roses, but she wants no part of him. She busies herself (along with everybody else in the film) by putting her dog through obedience school. Andy and Laura cross paths several times while walking their dogs, but they are always with other people. We also learn that Andy's old girlfriend's new boyfriend is Lorna's old boyfriend (get that?). The dating paths cross all over the place, including Andy's friends, Jeri and Jeff (Janeane Garofalo and McCulloch).
Alas, even the presence of Garofalo can't save this turkey. McCulloch, who also wrote the screenplay, seems to have lost all his comedic talent since his TV days. None of the characters come to life, and worse, none of them are funny. I watched one reel after another go buy without a single laugh. Some situations are constructed with the intention of comedy, but they are consistently bungled.
McCulloch cast fellow "Kid" Mark McKinney as a dog psychologist, which could have been a great role. Unfortunately, he never gives him anything very funny to say or do. That also goes for the rest of the cast. Harland Williams gives his best try to make something of his eccentric character, but there is nowhere to take it. The entire film is a waste of time, even though it is barely 90 minutes long.
This film was released a year ago in Canada, and finally makes it stateside this week. It wasn't screened for critics, which was probably best, but I still took the initiative to see it for myself. Now I am definitely not looking forward to McCulloch's next film, the upcoming Superstar. It is another "Saturday Night Live" spin-off, this time about Molly Shannon's Mary Katherine Gallagher character. Since he's only directing, it may not be a complete failure, but he has a long way to go as a screenwriter.
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Dog Park (1998)
Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan