Wiener-Dog

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Wiener-Dog Movie Poster Image
Peculiar, intriguing deadpan comedy has some dark material.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

A woman explains that she once posed nude (and "spread her legs").

Language

Very strong language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "goddamn," "idiot," "homophobe," plus "oh God" and "Christ" (as exclamations).

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCorgiMom July 14, 2016

Appalling - Cruel, Mean and Rotten

If you love animals - or if you rescue them, as I do - DO NOT see this movie. It is nothing but the journey of a cruelly mistreated dog at the hands of selfish,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byxMovieReviewer_ June 24, 2016

Smart and funny docu like drama/comedy is strange and disturbing but fine for teens.

My rating:PG-13 for bloody disturbing images, strong language, and some drug use.
Kid, 11 years old December 19, 2016

Very dissapointing

I first watched this when I was ten and well, I was intriuged about a comedy involving dogs, but no, this abomination waw what fell in front of me! As for the a... Continue reading

What's the story?

The parents (Julie Delpy and Tracy Letts) of a young cancer survivor surprise him with a pet Dachshund; the boy names her "WIENER-DOG." After an unfortunate incident involving doggie diarrhea, Wiener-Dog ends up rescued by Dawn Wiener (the main character from Welcome to the Dollhouse, now played by Greta Gerwig) and taken on the road with her old acquaintance (Kieran Culkin). The dog is then passed to a developmentally disabled couple, a depressed screenwriter-turned-teacher (Danny DeVito), and a money-grubbing twenty-something who tries to get money from her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) to finance her boyfriend's newest animal-related art project.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the brief, strong violence in Wiener-Dog. How did it affect you? Is it scary? Shocking? Thrilling? How does the filmmaker choose to show it? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How important is the dog to the story? How does she affect those around her? How do they affect her?

  • Which of these characters, if any, could be considered admirable? Do any of them have a positive outlook? How would you describe the movie's general attitude toward its characters?

Movie details

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