Sundance Recap: “Wiener-Dog”



Director Todd Solondz is a freaky-weird guy with an odd sense of humor to match, so it goes without saying that I kept waiting for something horrible to happen to the titular dog (do I really need to add a “spoiler alert” warning here?) Most of the scenes that worked featured the adorable little wiener dog (including an absolutely gleefully bizarre intermission break that got funnier and funnier as it went on), but sadly as the movie progresses, we see less and less of the pup.

The movie’s four major storylines were evenly split 50/50 in their overall success: my two favorites featured Greta Gerwig and Kieran Culkin (bringing their own take to Dawn Wiener and Brandon from Solondz’s film “Welcome to the Dollhouse” in performances so raw that I’m sure to remember them at the end of the year) and another with Ellen Burstyn and Zosia Mamet (as a homebound grandma and free-spirited granddaughter who visits after 4 years because she needs money). Unfortunately, the storylines with Danny DeVito as an irrelevant film professor and a particularly foul opening sequence and story with Julie Delphy and Keaton Cooke (in one of the worst child actor performances I’ve ever seen) served to sink this movie more than keep it afloat. While I appreciate the true independent voice of Solondz, this movie didn’t succeed on enough levels for me to recommend it.


“Wiener Dog” is a series of stories interconnected by the admittedly adorable title character. Some of these stories work, and some of them don’t. Some of Director Todd Solondz previous efforts (like “Welcome to the Dollhouse” and “Happiness“) were as inspired as they were upsetting, “Wiener Dog” was neither. It was a middle-of-the-road effort that is, and will be, easily forgotten. On the strength of the two “good” stories, I give it: 3 stars.

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