Dog Problem (The)
R1 - America - ThinkFilm
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (20th September 2007).
The Film

Actors sometimes feel that acting isn't enough and so the jump to directing is pretty attractive. In 2003, Scott Caan made that leap with 'Dallas 362', and now his sophomore effort is a cute little comedy. Down-on-his-luck loser Solo (Giovanni Ribisi) has been going to therapy for a year, has no more money and decides to get a pet - a dog, as the title suggests. Everybody, however, wants to buy this dog from him, which, for reasons he can't really articulate, he doesn't want to part with.

The trailer makes the movie seem a bit more quirky than it actually is. The film is a pretty down-to-earth, overall. There are moments of great levity, as when Solo goes back home and finds those two people in his bed, and the whole first half hour or so of the movie. After that, Solo goes on a journey of self-discovery and with the help of a litterateur stripper (Lynn Collins), he learns about himself and about others.

The dog is pretty cute, but there's actually no way he really represents a dog. The simple symbolism of the movie is easy to see, and when the dog runs away and is lost, there's something going on in Solo's personality. Aside from this simplicity, Scott Caan does a nice job as director. The movie uses handheld cameras instead of steadi-cams at times, but that's beside the point. (Mr. Caan actually addresses this in the commentary.) The film is simple and fun and that's the most important thing.

Giovanni Ribisi is good in his somewhat-slow-witted character he's been doing for a while. The movie also features Kevin Corrigan and Mena Suvari, who both play integral parts of the movie, but who don't really have to stretch their acting muscles. From start to finish, I have the feel this movie wants to be more quirky than it actually is, and what ends up being on screen is probably not what Scott Caan thought it would be. It does, however, provide a nice level of entertainment. I'd seen the trailer a few times before seeing this movie. It's proof positive that you can show an idiot a trailer enough times and he'll want to watch the movie. It's also very nice that the movie, this time, was worth it.

Video

1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Thinkfilm transferred the movie very well. The low-budget movie looks pretty nice, and only one or two specks show up. Colours are accurate and full, though never overly bright. They're adequate and never flicker. There's also no edge enhancement or any compression artifacts. The picture does seem soft, but it doesn't affect the overall enjoyment of the movie. The picture quality is very nice and should satisfy everybody.

Audio

The movie has two tracks in English, a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track. I heard the former and was pretty happy. The rear speakers are for the most part forgotten, but the score creeps up behind you many times. The front is very open and clear. Dialogue and barks are clear and unmuffled. The various effects are clear as well and fairly accurate. With a small movie with most of the action taking place in front of the camera, the mixing job isnít he hardest. The audio is very nice, though.
English HoH and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

The biggest and best extra is an audio commentary by director/writer Scott Caan and actor Giovanni Ribisi. These two guys are friends and it really shows here. They joke about the movie, each other and even themselves. Their humour is pretty funny and they made me laugh a few times. Mr. Caan talks about the locations and the script and how he handled being writer, director, camera operator and actor at the same time. Mr. Ribisi talk s about how he prepared for the role and how much fun it was shooting with a dog. They actually do talk about the dog a lot. They do focus a lot of Lynn Collins and Sarah Shahi, as well. French New Wave films are also discussed as influences for the movie. It's an informative and entertaining track. If you're a fan of the film, definitely check this commentary out.

Next is a Theatrical Trailer. This 2Ĺ-minute trailer is a pretty good one. The music and tone is one of a very quirky comedy, which isn't exactly what you get, but the trailer still gets you to watch the movie. So, it's a good trailer. To finish off, there's a Trailer Gallery, which also serves as start-up trailers. 'The Wendell Baker Story' (2:21), 'A New Wave' (2:02), 'Live Free or Die' (1:53), 'Farce of the Penguins' (2:17) and 'Life of the Party' (2:05) are here.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: B- Audio: B Extras: C+ Overall: B-

 


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