Written and directed by Mike White. With Molly Shannon, Regina King, Josh Pais, John C. Reilly, Peter Sarsgaard. 1 hour, 37 mins. PG-13 (mature themes, profanity) Distributed by Paramount Vantage.
In Year of the Dog, Molly Shannon, button-eyed and purse-lipped, resembles Julia Louis-Dreyfus' wan sister, earnest rather than ironic, timid rather than bold. What animates Peggy (Shannon) is . . . animals. Specifically her beagle.
Pencil and Peggy are the perfect couple, an ideal of mutual understanding. In the opening sequences of this directorial debut by screenwriter Mike White (The Good Girl, Chuck and Buck, School of Rock,), the passive woman and her playful dog have a serene rapport. Peggy provides and nurtures, Pencil capers and loves. There is no discord. When tragedy strikes, it rips Peggy's heart. A replacement pet does not heal this dogaholic. The possibility of saving all creatures does. Absurdist humor or animal activism? You decide.