Everything is deceiving about “Wiener-Dog,” what seems to be a happy movie about a lovable Dachshund. This is from the dark director Todd Solondz, who has done unpleasant films like “Happiness” and “Welcome to the Dollhouse” which have taken disturbing turns.
If you love dogs, and especially love Dachshunds, don’t see this film. In fact, I’m going to purposely spoil the shocking ending for you so that you will NOT be tempted to see the film.
The movie was screened at Sundance, and is not yet officially getting a release date, but maybe notices like this will keep people from being misled into going to see it.
From the outset, from the trailer, it seems like this is the story of a cute Dachshund that makes families happy. The dog goes between four different families but it’s not always clear how they get from one to another. The stories of the families involve life and death. It starts off with a young boy who survived cancer, then the dog lives with a young woman, then a middle-aged man and finally an elderly woman on the verge of death.
But, “Wiener-Dog” is a long practical joke against people who love animals. The dog goes by many different names: Doody, Cancer and Wiener-Dog. The lead of the movie is a brown female mini-Doxie with a pleasing disposition, never yippie, and always obedient. Her face is intelligent and expressive, and she is often the most calm character on the screen, and most agreeable.
Julie Delpy plays the mother of the young boy who is recovering from cancer and gives her son a dog named “Wiener-Dog.” Delpy’s character is unpleasant and even gets more unpleasant when she seems to become threatened or jealous of the precious Dachshund.
Delpy’s character tells a rotten story about how her own childhood dog was raped by a stray dog that resulted in her pet dying after giving birth to stillborn pups. When the dog has a grotesque diarrhea accident, the pup gets taken away to be put down.
Greta Gerwig portrays a veterinarian’s assistant who rescues the dog an names her Doody. Then, Danny DeVito plays a struggling screenwriter who loves walking the character through Manhattan. The dog is then named “Cancer” and is brought to a dying elder woman played by the great Ellen Burstyn.
In the middle of the movie, during an intermission, famed songwriter Marc Shaiman wrote “The Ballad of Wiener-Dog,” and the dog is cutely strutting across the screen.
Finally, and this is the worst, the dog leaves the backyard and runs into the middle of the street and is hit by a truck. It’s not a pretty sight, and there’s no reason by the director has to linger on the horror of the gruesome scene. Then, to add to the nightmare, another truck speeds up and runs over the pup. Then, a car full of teenagers hits the dog. Then, a Smart car.
The dog’s body gets scraped up from the street by a crazy artist, who makes an avant-garde art piece out of the carcass. The dog is stuffed and becomes an animatronic art installation where it can live forever. She becomes a robot admired now through a glass box.
Yes, this ending is as unnecessarily disturbing as it sounds. A big group of Sundance critics and filmgoers walked out and were hissing during this accident. If you love dogs, love Wiener-Dogs, you’ll be very disturbed about this film. Go find “Wiener Dog Nationals” to rent.