Year of the Dog Movie Poster Image

Year of the Dog



SNL alum shines as grieving, lonely animal lover.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Peggy forges her boss' signature to donate funds to animal-rights charities but later apologizes. The heartbreak of losing her dog results in Peggy discovering her inner animal activist.


Images of animals used in lab tests are shown on a computer. Disturbing scenes of a dog near death and its owner's overwhelming grief. Off-screen, an aggressive dog kills a much smaller one, and viewers see another crying pet owner. A small child is told that pigs and chickens are murdered to be her food.


A couple makes out loudly in front of Peggy. Layla wears low-cut tops. Peggy and Newt share an awkward kiss. Al's girlfriend does a sexy dance.


Sparingly used: "bitch" (in the "dog way"), "piss," "cripple," "hell." Peggy compares a slaughterhouse to the Holocaust.


Several brands are occasionally featured: Mercedes, Oompa Toys, Gymboree, and Victoria's Secret,

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Peggy gets drunk on New Year's Eve (while babysitting) and has wine on a date. Layla suggests getting "wasted" and offers Peggy the anti-anxiety drug Xanax before taking it herself.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dramedy chronicles a pet lover's transformation into a hardcore animal-rights activist. The film portrays veganism and animal adoption positively and casts a negative light on game hunting, wearing fur, and eating meat. Molly Shannon's character is socially awkward and incredibly lonely, so there are some tear-jerking scenes of her after her beloved dog's accidental death. Children who have pets and/or love animals may be disturbed by photographic images of animal cruelty, a wall of mounted stuffed animals, and three instances of pets dying.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

In screenwriter Mike White's (Chuck & Buck, School of Rock) directorial debut, Molly Shannon is Peggy, a sweet-but-forgettable woman whose sole intimate connection is with her adoring pet beagle, Pencil. When Pencil dies of toxic poisoning after snooping around a neighbor's (John C. Reilly) yard, Peggy grows despondent -- suffering from the kind of gut-wrenching grief that people go through when they lose an immediate family member. While Peggy's still mourning, animal adoption worker Newt (Peter Sarsgaard) convinces her to rescue an aggressive German Shepherd, which he offers to train. Inspired by and attracted to Newt -- a staunch activist dedicated to various animal causes -- Peggy decides to become a vegan and starts hounding her co-workers to sign petitions, eat animal-free cupcakes, and adopt pets. For the first time, Peggy seems happy, and her busybody work friend Layla (Regina King) immediately notices the lovestruck glow. But when Newt admits he's celibate and is unwilling to have a romantic relationship, a crushed Peggy comes undone. She quickly devolves into a smelly, unkempt dog lady who doesn't even brush her hair or clean her house (which quickly gets filthy after she brings home a pack of rescued dogs).

Is it any good?


Who knew the SNL alum responsible for underarm-sniffing Superstar schoolgirl Mary Catherine Gallagher was capable of such a subtle, standout performance as an animal-loving wallflower? Thus far, Shannon's film career had been relegated to supporting quirky-friend roles, in which her manic energy and crack comedic timing got limited screen time. But throughout Peggy's transformation in this movie, Shannon is a vision. Every gesture and expression is perfectly calibrated to evoke pathos and sympathy for the sensitive, loving Peggy.

White, who's confessed that he's a pro-animal-rights vegan, could be construed as making an agenda film, but YEAR OF THE DOG is really a poignant chronicle of love lost and self discovery.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Peggy's character is portrayed. Does the movie link her depression with "craziness"? Is that accurate? What do you think about her belief that humans disappoint but animals always have love to give. Is it healthy for someone to love their pet(s) more than other humans? Families can also discuss how the media deals with social issues like animal rights. Are movies and TV shows an appropriate forum to deal with those issues? Why or why not? Was Peggy justified in taking her niece to the animal sanctuary? What about when she ruins her sister-in-law's fur coats? Kids: What do you think about animal rights?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 19, 2007
DVD/Streaming release date:August 28, 2007
Cast:Molly Shannon, Peter Sarsgaard, Regina King
Director:Mike White
Studio:Paramount Vantage
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some suggestive references.

This review of Year of the Dog was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 10 years old February 1, 2011

Yes, well, don't be fooled by the title.

The word "b*tch" is used, but according to the title, in the dog way. Some other profanities. Otherwise Peggy is a great animal lover.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Adult Written bytlaney April 9, 2008

entertaining? no. propaganda? you bet!

I've never liked Molly Shannon. This movie did nothing to change that. It portrays a descent into madness in response to a pet's death. I'm a HUGE dog lover, but vegans and animal-rights activists take it to a wacky extreme, and that's what Shannon's character does. If you say that's not madness, (SPOILER ALERT), attempted murder of the neighbor you suspect of killing your dog certainly IS. Described as a dark comedy, this movie is all dark and very little comedy.
Teen, 14 years old Written bySynchronicity April 9, 2008

A Great Movie

This movie is the second best black comedy I've seen. (the other one was Waitress) This film is about the transformation of a dog lover to an animal activist. So she slowly becomes a maniac, to put it bluntly. She does illegal acts to show her activism, but unlike the adult reviewer, I don't think it's propaganda. Yes, I thought the threat to kill was a little too much. Also there's an image of a wall of mounted stuffed animals, two images of animal experimentation, a near-visit to a slaughterhouse and some mild cursing. But it's a good film that teaches us that everyone has something to love.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?