Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. I mean no impertinence when I say that as a portrait of love and grief, writer-director Mike White's exceptional film Year of the Dog deserves the same admiration accorded Joan Didion's exceptional memoir "The Year of Magical Thinking."
  2. 91
    White's gently perceptive film is a funny, poignant, emotionally honest minor-key character study.
  3. Reviewed by: Toddy Burton
    Dern is hilarious as the obsessive sister-in-law, Sarsgaard plays oddball dog-man to perfection, Pais is perfectly awkward as Peggy's nervous boss, Reilly rocks the subtle humor of Peggy's hunting-obsessed neighbor, and Shannon gives a breakout performance.
  4. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    It may sound as if first-time director White is having his fun at the expense of introverted, asocial people who prefer the company of cats and dogs and gravitate toward animal-rights activism because the very idea of dealing with human problems requires an empathy they can't muster. But empathy is exactly what makes the film work.
  5. Until Year of the Dog, I've never seen a movie where someone obsessed over a puppy.
  6. In Year of the Dog, there are dark moments that are both strangely poignant and bizarrely hilarious. The ending took me by surprise. In a way it's a cheat, a redemption that arrives out of nowhere. But it's also a cosmic joke, a perfectly funny, sincere salute to dog and pet-lovers everywhere.
  7. While some may be put off by Peggy's wild-eyed mania, and the film's broadly comic tone, Shannon makes this lost spirit strikingly sympathetic.
  8. 75
    Shannon is wonderful as a woman pushed over the edge by the death of her pet in Year of the Dog, a very low-key, well-acted dramedy.
  9. One of those quirky little movies that you marvel ever got made.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    An engaging tragicomedy, exploring the consequences of single-minded fervor in a humorous and humane fashion.
  11. Reviewed by: Ethan Alter
    Year of the Dog would have benefited from a stronger hand behind the camera (White's general aesthetic basically involves cribbing heavily from Wes Anderson and Jared Hess), but as a showcase for Shannon, it ends up being strangely moving.
  12. A rough little comedy of tone. White, making his directorial debut, asks if the search for self is still heroic when the discoveries are unpleasant.
  13. The conceit of the movie is that everyone is obsessed by something and never really tunes into anybody else.
  14. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    Overall, Year of the Dog evinces an appealing sentimentality without being maudlin or only puppy-dog cute.
  15. 70
    Year of the Dog is an enjoyable, patchy, rambling affair, a series of bittersweet comic sketches strung together with thin wire.
  16. 70
    So oppressive is Peggy's world -- Year of the Dog is the best evocation I've seen of how much worse it is to be depressed in a sunny climate -- that when she finally loses control, it feels more like catharsis than madness.
  17. 70
    With pathos competing equally against the often pungent laughs for the audience's attention, it's a movie that is both unsettling and amusing, most comparable to "Chuck & Buck" in tone.
  18. It's funny ha-ha but firmly in touch with its downer side, which means it's also funny in a kind of existential way.
  19. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's the most thorough portrait yet of the world according to White.
  20. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    A satisfying and funny, if ironic, comedy intended for lovers of both the beast and/or sophisticated laughs.
  21. 70
    White delivers another weirdly dark-but-funny story.
  22. 70
    Despite the gimmicky direction and a disappointing climax, this is a distinctive and unsettling comedy.
  23. White throws in a dog-in-peril shot to ensure the audience's sympathies. The ploy works, perhaps too well, turning Year of the Dog less into the askew character study it wants to be than a showcase of lovable-dog shots.
  24. 63
    Shannon gives the movie its inner life. Maybe the movie will give her back her comedy career.
  25. The ironic, cheery-bland tone, the two-dimensional characters and episodic structure, say "comedy," while the events in the script say "bipolar depression."
  26. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Mike White, writer of "Chuck & Buck" and "The School of Rock" (and oddball actor in both), here directs his latest geek's revenge fantasy like a psychotherapeutically treated Todd Solondz.
  27. 60
    The movie's meaning seems to be: we're all crippled in some way, so just live with it--celebrate it, even. That isn't satire; it's moss-brained sentiment that turns "sensitivity" into a dimly dejected view of life.
  28. The curious character study is a comedy in a minor key, but for all White's fascination with Peggy, he brings little conviction to the healing message under all this creepiness and social awkwardness, beyond what Shannon brings to the role.
  29. 40
    Billed as a comedy but it would be every bit as accurate to categorize it as science fiction or a World War II drama. It is simply not a funny film.
  30. 38
    In Year of the Dog, director Mike White willfully violates one of the great unwritten rules of Hollywood screenwriting: Kill as many human characters as you want, just spare the dog.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 23 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 13
  2. Negative: 3 out of 13
  1. Dec 11, 2010
    The tone of the film is ambient and static, as fashioned by Jared Hess in Napoleon Dynamite, and the uniquely tongue-in-cheek observation of Los Angeles society is contrasted with the more serious theme of death. The toxic poisoning of her pet dog seems to be a catalyst for evolution and exposes the film as a medium for humility in which vegans and pro-animal activists are cast as socially detached. In fact humans are generally seen as undeserving of any sustained screen time. On a subconscious level White's satire questions the role of communication and whether what you stand for should define you as a person. In a sense it is anti-human but it also offers redemption through the medium of change. Full Review »