Year of the Dog
An unremarkable administrative assistant finds her life going to the dogs both literally and figuratively in actor/screenwriter-turned-director Mike White's dark comedy-drama. Peggy (Molly Shannon), an inexplicably cheerful office worker whose somewhat sad excuse for a life seems to revolve around her pet beagle, Pencil, relates better to her four-legged friend than she does to most humans. Most of her person-to-person interaction revolves around doting on other people's children and treating her co-workers to daily donuts, and Peggy just doesn't find much solace in the company of her know-it-all sister-in-law, Bret (Laura Dern), or her anxiety-prone boss, Robin (Josh Pais). When Pencil is taken before his time, the devastated Peggy is wracked with guilt. Now desperate to fill the gaping void that has suddenly opened in her life, Peggy agrees to a date with her gun-nut neighbor, Al (John C. Reilly), that ends in disaster when she begins to suspect that the boorish brute may have in fact poisoned her ill-fated pooch. Later, after adopting every dog at the local pound and transforming herself into an overzealous animal-rights activist, the increasingly unhinged Peggy reaches out to asexual activist Newt (Peter Sarsgaard) in a last-grasp attempt at forming a human connection.