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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Dog Park
Dog Park
New Line // R // March 2, 2004
List Price: $19.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted February 23, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Movie: Movies about looking for love are among the most common on the market (and I'm not referring to porn either). Whether it be something as humorous as Steve Martin's The Lonely Guy, something serious like Urban Cowboy, or something that tries to be humorous but ends up being serious like the lame How To Deal, there seems to be a multitude of relationship movies being made year in and year out. Some of the better ones try to focus on a small issue and examine it thoroughly or go the opposite route and look at a broad view of a major topic. Every once in a while, you get a movie that tries to do both, failing at each, yet still showing it could've made it. One such movie is a 1999 release, Dog Walk.

The movie takes a look at a single guy, Andy (Luke Wilson of Alex & Emma and Legally Blonde 2) who is insecure in his relationships, always landing on his feet with Miss Wrong, instead of someone perfect for him like Lorna (Natasha Henstridge of Species), who has a problem finding anyone at all (not the best moment in casting, to be sure) since she doesn't trust anyone. The central facet of the show revolved around a park where people walked their dogs, following an unwritten set of rules (like not exchanging owner names, only their dog's names) to keep their emotional distance from one another. There were a few sub-plots involving such wacky characters as a dog psychiatrist, a "perfect" couple (played aptly by Janeane Garofalo and director Bruce McCullogh), and the various significant others who parade in and out of their lives wreaking havoc with their emotions.

As far as an actual plot goes, there really wasn't one as the movie ambled about mindlessly in search of a linear thread to hold it all together. Luke played the same character he always seems to play; a nice guy who doesn't have any drive or ambition, an emotional cripple of sorts. The others did okay but the material was weak and that sure didn't give this reviewer much to appreciate. I'm going to rate it as a Skip It for almost everyone out there. I suppose fans of the cast will want to rent it in order to see if what myself and pretty much every other critic in existence agree to, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color as originally filmed. The fleshtones and other colors were accurate and the grain was on the low to moderate side. The video noise was usually only a problem when the lighting was low (admittedly a lot of the time with this being a sex-based comedy). The focus was a bit soft much of the time and generally, the picture was average at best. Oh, the compression artifacts were few in number but very noticeable in the darker scenes as well.

Sound: The audio was presented in a choice of either a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround English or 2.0 Dolby Digital English track, each with optional subtitles in English or Spanish. Other than the audio levels being somewhat inconsistent, the channel separation being somewhat limited (most of the audio came from the center channel and the rest seemed to come from the front speakers), and the dynamic range being limited, it was okay. The music was entertaining and very appropriate to the dilemmas the cast was going through (I only wish as much thought went into writing the screenplay).

Extras: There were some trailers but that was it.

Final Thoughts: On a technical note, the picture locked up at the layer change (around 48:45) and I had to fast forward through the spot to get it to move again (hitting play didn't work). If you like Luke Wilson, a decent enough actor in such lightweight movies, check him out in almost anything else he's been in, even Alex & Emma or Legally Blonde 2, (certainly not his biggest hits), and if you like the others, I'm sure you'll find something they've been in you'll like but this was a dud built on the false hope of combining some proven talent and letting it simmer.

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