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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
At first it seems as if the dog will bring warmth and kindness to these hopeless humans, but that's not exactly what happens. Their lives seem to remain just as empty, even after meaningful encounters. No real lessons are learned, and there are no real consequences.
Positive Role Models
No clear role models. The humans are mostly downbeat and without hope. A developmentally disabled couple is treated with kindness and empathy, but a mother speaks carelessly and cruelly to her child about things like rape and death. Others are treated with disgust, contempt, or impatience.
Violence & Scariness
A dog is run over by a car and squashed (blood shown); several more cars run over its corpse. Disgusting doggie diarrhea all over a house. A child is said to be a cancer survivor. A violent video game is shown (Postal 2), with head-slicing. Mention of rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A woman explains that she once posed nude (and "spread her legs").
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Very strong language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "goddamn," "idiot," "homophobe," plus "oh God" and "Christ" (as exclamations).
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Products & Purchases
Bounty and 7-Up brands are shown in a store. Chase Bank and Dollar Tree are shown.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mention of crystal meth. One character appears to be a drug dealer. A man is said to have drunk himself to death. A woman smokes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Wiener-Dog is a strange, dark, deadpan comedy from Todd Solondz and is a kind of disconnected follow-up to his Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996). It has some brief but upsetting violence -- specifically, an animal is killed in traffic and then run over multiples times -- as well as footage from a violent video game (Postal 2). Doggie diarrhea is shown, and a child is said to be a cancer survivor. Language is very strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as other words. A woman says that she once posed nude; one character may be a drug dealer. Some smoking is shown, and there's talk of both crystal meth and of a character drinking himself to death. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Indie filmmaker Todd Solondz, best known for his morose 1990s films Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, returns with this peculiar deadpan road movie, which is as aimless as it is fascinating. It vaguely recalls the great French film Au hasard Balthazar (1966), in which a donkey goes through several owners and affects their lives in interesting, spiritual ways. But the Wiener-Dog of this movie, on the other hand, seems to become less and less important, inspiring no spiritual awakening and very little hope.
Still, Solondz somehow injects these miserable characters with a weirdly appealing humanity, even if they rarely make us laugh out loud or evoke any sympathy. They're like skilled stick figure drawings, an offbeat representation of humanity. The almost random appearance of Dawn Wiener, the main character from Welcome to the Dollhouse -- now 21 years older and played by Gerwig -- adds to the overall atmosphere of puzzlement. It's as if something just outside the margins is intriguingly missing.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.