Review of "A Dog Year" From The TV MegaSite
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A Dog Year DVD cover

 A Dog Year


  Review by Suzanne 12/13/10

This is a good family movie, although there are some "bad words" in it that you might not want kids to hear. It's a good film for dog lovers of all kinds (it helps if you're a big Jeff Bridges fan, too).

It's based on a true story, which may explain why the plot is a little thin. Frankly, while I did enjoy the movie, I thought it ended too abruptly (and a bit predictably).  Bridges plays a writer, Katz, who is supposed to write his next book but is blocked. He has two dogs, a daughter, and a wife. We never see the wife, who is traveling (they apparently are somewhat separated), and a daughter, who is at college. She does drop by for a while, though.

He has two beautiful labrador retrievers, and he adopts a border collie. This border collie has been abused, so he promised someone that he would adopt him because he is supposed to be good with dogs.  Turns out he's not so good with "problem" dogs.  Also, since he has a lot of his own anger issues, he can't really help the dog until he helps himself (which is a little cliche).

We see many scenes of the dog misbehaving, and him chasing the dog or yelling at the dog.  Eventually, he moves to a house out in the country, so that the dog won't get into so much trouble when he runs off, I guess, and so he can have more privacy for writing.  He meets with a woman who is more of an expert on dogs than he is, and she helps him deal with his own issues a bit, as well as the dog.

The problem is that we don't really see why he has these issues, and he doesn't really have therapy or anything like that, and his book problem is only solved because he writes about his dog. What does he do for his next book? I have no idea. We also never see what happens with him and his wife. Do they get back together, or not? I have no idea.  Does he ever move back to his old house, or stay in the country with the dog? And what happened to his other dog (who does not go with him and the collie to the country)? One of them we do learn about, and I don't want to spoil it for you.

I won't tell you the end, but like I said, it is abrupt, predictable, and leaves you wondering what happened next.  Now, as far as the acting, Bridges is always excellent, and he does a fine job as usual, here. I don't know why he bothered with this lightweight little movie, though. Maybe he loves dogs and this was the best movie he could find to make about them. The movie is mostly about him and the dog...the others are very secondary.

It is a great movie for watching dogs. There are lots of adorable dogs in the movie, and because of that, and what happens, there are some heartfelt scenes. Some parts were very sad, so I had to pause the DVD, hug my dog, and cry a bit before watching the rest.  I just wish the plot, especially the ending, had more substance and more originality. It leaves me wondering, why did they bother?

I think any kids, and any family would love the movie as a Christmas gift, as would anyone with dogs. Just don't give it to movie lovers otherwise because they will be disappointed.

There is one very short Behind the Scenes featurette on the DVD. It talks about making the movie but doesn't really explain why the movie leaves me feeling unsettled.  I guess I will have to read the book!

Press Release:

 Academy Award(r) Winner Jeff Bridges Stars in A DOG YEAR

In Stores, Exclusively from HBO Home Entertainment(r) On December 7, 2010

New York, N.Y., September 14, 2010 - Academy Award(r) winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) delivers an Emmy(r) nominated performance in the HBO original film, A Dog Year. Bridges stars as Jon Katz, a writer at mid-life crossroads whose simple decision to adopt a dog turns his entire world around. Available on DVD December 7, 2010 for the suggested retail price of $26.98, bonus materials include a fascinating behind-the- scenes featurette with an interview by Bridges.

Based on the real-life memoir by New York Times best-selling author Jon Katz, the film tells the story of a writer in the middle of an existential crisis who adopts an abused dog - a well-bred but high-strung border collie who turns his life upside down. At first, the dog wreaks chaos on the suburban inertia that Katz shares with two older, mellower Labrador Retrievers. Suffering from writer's block and a touch of misanthropy, his attempts to rein in the school bus-chasing new dog meet with little success, despite a reality-check visit from his college-age daughter Emma (Lauren Ambrose "Six Feet Under(r)"). A move to a rural farmhouse, combined with insightful lessons in animal behavior from a tough-love trainer (Lois Smith, "True Blood(r)"), begin to yield healing for the dog, and more importantly, for Katz. Ultimately, the experience transforms both man and dog in meaningful, though unexpected ways.

A Dog Year

DVD Street Date: December 7, 2010

Order Date: November 2, 2010

Rating: TV-PG

Runtime: Approx. 82 minutes (including bonus featurette)

Price: $26.98 DVD Suggested Retail Price

About HBO Home Entertainment(r)

In its 25 years in operation, HBO Home Entertainment has earned a worldwide reputation as a pioneer in the DVD industry as well as the digital technology and internet frontiers. The first company to successfully release full-length TV series in the DVD format, HBO Home Entertainment created a new category for consumers with titles like Sex and the City(r), The Sopranos(r), Band of Brothers(r) (which remains the #1 selling TV-on-DVD since its release in 2002), and the most recent hit True Blood(r). In addition, HBO Home Entertainment's catalog contains theatrical features such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of the top 10 selling DVDs of all time. The company was also the first in the world to release television programming in the new Blu-ray high-definition format in 2006. It was also one of the first in the video industry to use the internet to expand its marketing beyond traditional vehicles and to revolutionize DVD packaging with the creation of releases that have won multiple awards including a recent DVD Critics Award for The Sopranos(r): The Complete Series - a first for television. In addition, the division utilizes innovative manufacturing-on-demand technology to broaden its number of releases and sells digital versions of its titles via the internet. Today, HBO Home Entertainment's reach has grown to over 70 countries around the world, bringing HBO branded entertainment to a global audience.

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Updated 12/13/10  


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