movie review: Dog Years (2017)

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TriBeCa Film Festival is one of my favorite New York City things to do. The key is to know what to see among the plethora of options available. Especially if you are working and only want to go during weekends or evenings. Then your choices are a bit limited and like everything else in the city you have to snag them before anyone else.

TriBeCa does a pretty good job of classifying the movies and providing you various permutations and combinations to find that one movie that might appeal to you.

This year however the three movies I picked left me mostly disappointed. This review is about the biggest disappointments of them.

It’s important to qualify why I picked this over others. I always find it useful to pick one of the gala feature entries. In the past I have found that to be a good way to catch a good movie you otherwise won’t get to see. This movie also had a last minute extra show released which to me meant (albeit in a naive fashion) it’s getting good reviews. This year, I learned the hard way that this correlation isn’t true when the movie has never been screened.

Dog Years is about a bygone actor (Burt Reynolds) who is invited to a lifetime achievement award to honor his work only to find out that these awards were started in a bar by a glorified fan club. To his utter disappointment there are no fancy hotel rooms, no limousines and most of all a lousy assistant in the form of Ariel Winter.

The screening was followed by a chat with the director. Even though I and the group I was with hated the movie, we waited to hear from the director — partly out of artistic respect and partly out of curiosity about why he made this. The director, Adam Rifkin, explained he had been working on the idea for about seven years. He went to Burt Reynolds with it who agreed to star in it and long story short took him so long to get someone to produce it. During this time they had to change the original cast, original location among other things and the only constants were Burt and Adam. Adam had in fact written the story just with Burt in mind. After all the idea of leveraging old movie footage with Burt in it seems like an easy play on nostalgia and an easy win.

Burt really did buy into the story and that came through in his acting and portrayal. He is the film’s only one redeeming feature. But he is unable to save it from the horrible direction and even worse acting skills from others, especially Ariel Winter. Unfortunately the bad girl image doesn’t work at all for her this time and she is unable to breathe any life into her character. Clark Duke and Ellar Coltrane, in their minor roles as the organizers of the festival do a decent job but the story’s haphazard movement doesn't allow them or anyone else to do much. In fact the movies isn’t even able to fully develop the one aspect that it advertises — relationship between Ariel and Brut. It is extremely rushed and undeveloped.

Overall this movie is only worth even a home cable network watch if you have been a massive Burt Reynolds fan. If not, don’t even bother.

Rating: 0.5/5