How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog Reviews

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Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ June 10, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog" is about playwright, Peter Magowan(Kenneth Branagh), who used to be an enfant terrible of the theater set and is now nearing middle age. After a run of successful hits, he has been suffering recently through a string of failures and desperately wants a hit but difficult rehearsals for his newest play is not making anything easier. He is married to Melanie(Robin Wright Penn) who teaches dance and desperately wants to have a baby.(This is the second movie this week[/font] I've seen [font=Century Gothic]where Robin Wright Penn plays a character who wants to have a baby. Is this a trend or am I having one of those weeks?) Peter is much more hesitant about having a child. Add into this mix - a noisy neighborhood dog, new neighbors and a mysterious stranger.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog" is about a character finally growing up as he nears middle age which I can see but this does not necessarily have to include having children. This is almost a good movie and its only real strength is a superb performance from Kenneth Branagh. And it is too long by about twenty minutes and feeds on easy targets like morning news shows.[/font]
January 11, 2011
A friend told me about this and I thoroughly enjoyed it. NOT a run of the mill film. Kenneth Branagh is superb as is the supporting cast. A lot of language and content not suitable for kids but that's probably why its R... Lots of dry English comedy so if you don't like that kind of humor you probably won't like this film. I liked it a lot and highly recommend it.
July 24, 2007
I almost always expect Kenneth Brannagh to be donning a dodgy middle-ages moustache or flowery blouse whenever I see him on screen. His fascination with Shakespeare has been the bedrock of his career with successful productions of "Hamlet", "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Henry V" behind him. But he's also tried his hand at more mainstream work - 1991 thriller "Dead Again" and follow-up comedy, "Peter's Friends" for example. In 2000, he took his hands off the reigns, merely starring in Michael Kalesniko's directorial debut, "How to Kill Your Neighbour's Dog".

Peter McGowan (Brannagh) is a British playwright living in LA. After considerable success in the 80s, his 90s output has struggled to make the grade and now he's agitated, struggling to sleep, chain-smoking and impotent. His excitable wife Melanie (Wright Penn - "The Pledge", "Moll Flanders", "Forrest Gump", "The Playboys"), is pressuring him to have kids - something that is not on Peter's agenda.

Add to that the incessant night-time barking of his neighbour's dog, a stalker who claims he is Peter McGowan and the new eight-year old kid, Amy (Suzi Hofrichter), who hangs around his garden every day, and Peter's hemorrhoids might not be the worst of his problems.

Maybe all Peter needs is to find his magic again, but work on his latest production is moving slowly, director Brian Sellars (Krumholtz - "10 Things I Hate About You", "The Mexican") and prima-donna actor Adam (Johnathon Schaech) unimpressed with the dialogue that Peter has written for the child character in the play. Peter needs to find some inspiration - maybe Amy can be that for him?

It might be little known, but it's not under-appreciated. "How to Kill Your Neighbour's Dog" made a splash in 2000, winning several jury and audience awards and chosen to close the Toronto film festival.

One of the main success' of Kalesniko's script is that he keeps things light-hearted despite occasionally making scathing observations about Hollywood ('If you want to be happy in Hollywood, be a cinematographer. Nobody knows what you're doing, so they can't screw with you') and human beings in general. When Melanie suggests that Peter see a doctor about his anxiety, he replies 'What if he cures me? Then, I'll have nothing to write about. Nobody wants to know about how happy you are'.

There is perhaps a more political side to the shtick. During a TV interview, Peter calmly tells interviewer Debra Salhany: 'Do you ever think that if you attack an artist long enough, that you'll succeed in having him censor himself?' The dialogue succeeds in the main save for some occasions when it sounds like McGowan's smart-arse replies have come right off a cue card.

The manic, mid-life crisis that seems to be enveloping Peter is amusing and while initially not caring much for his predicaments, one quickly warms to his character. Credit for this goes to Brannagh, massively underrated actor that he is. Puffing continuously on a cigarette, swearing at his neighbour's dog, frequently not bothering to shave, dismissing young Amy with a sharp tone and paying little attention to his deteriorating mother-in-law (Redgrave - "Shine", "Gregory Girl"), it is remarkable that you still smile at his frequent rants and take him at face value.

The rest of the cast do fine. Wright Penn is not pushed in her role but she carries it off as well as should be expected. Redgrave, veteran of the screen, has little to do but mutter and look lost which she does sufficiently and the supporting acts of Krumholtz, Schaech and Peter's obsessed fan, Peter (Jared Harris - "Mr Deeds", "Smoke", "Natural Born Killers"), have their moments amongst it all.

This is a good movie. I don't think it's award-winning caliber but essentially you go in expecting occasional entertainment and you get a good sight more in the end. There is potential in the head of Kalesniko and I'd keep an eye on his next one. I expect a Christopher Guest-style approach where we'll see him teaming up with Wright Penn and Brannagh again.
June 26, 2007
i dont know why, but this movie follows me. i think about it at least a few times a week. it has amazing dialogue but i dont know that any of the rest of it was good, save kenneth branagh's performance. hm.
November 25, 2014
Well written, well performed, not just a smash chase catch piece of hollywood crap.
July 13, 2008
Kenneth Branagh's energetic sweet-and-sour performance as a curmudgeonly British playwright grounds this overstuffed, erratic dramedy in which he and his improbably forbearing wife contend with craziness and child-rearing in Los Angeles.
August 12, 2013
One of my favs, and a look at what living with me might be like if ever i find someone.
March 24, 2012
Breath of fresh air with realistic scenarios and comedy.
½ August 28, 2011
Hilarious, extremely clever, Kenneth Branagh is awesome, and the film's got heart.
April 7, 2011
Though I didn't like it all when I saw it when it came out, I was only eight years old, and my threshold for cynicism, low though it is now, was practically non-existent then. This is a clever movie, good for quite a few laughs.
March 8, 2011
HOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOURS DOG [2000]: A troubled and once great English play write Peter Mc Grow is having trouble composing his next play in L.A. The amusingly synclinal Peter must deal with a wife who wants a child, a neighbour's kid who keeps bothering him and a barking neighbour's dog. This movie had a lot of potential but ended up being a typical semimetal film with a shred of originality before doing downhill in a clichéd script, my rating is 60% for a good start and a unique title but other than that it's a passable comedy.
½ February 21, 2011
Fantastic! I'm difficult to please in the cinema because I like my stories edgy, my dialogue realistic and witty, and my characters fascinating. But this hit all three-- I could not take my eyes off the screen, and I found myself gleefully laughing throughout. You'll love this movie if you're into flawed heroes, intelligent humour and quirk-a-licious plotline.
½ February 3, 2010
*** (out of four)

Poor Peter, played by Kenneth Branaugh, is trying to get his new play finished. He is under pressure from his wife to have a baby and from his producer to finish getting it wriiten. But the neighbors dog barks all the time, ruining his concentration. On top of that he is being stalked by a fan.

This clever and funny film features one amusing moment after another.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ June 10, 2005
[font=Century Gothic]"How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog" is about playwright, Peter Magowan(Kenneth Branagh), who used to be an enfant terrible of the theater set and is now nearing middle age. After a run of successful hits, he has been suffering recently through a string of failures and desperately wants a hit but difficult rehearsals for his newest play is not making anything easier. He is married to Melanie(Robin Wright Penn) who teaches dance and desperately wants to have a baby.(This is the second movie this week[/font] I've seen [font=Century Gothic]where Robin Wright Penn plays a character who wants to have a baby. Is this a trend or am I having one of those weeks?) Peter is much more hesitant about having a child. Add into this mix - a noisy neighborhood dog, new neighbors and a mysterious stranger.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog" is about a character finally growing up as he nears middle age which I can see but this does not necessarily have to include having children. This is almost a good movie and its only real strength is a superb performance from Kenneth Branagh. And it is too long by about twenty minutes and feeds on easy targets like morning news shows.[/font]
January 12, 2004
Do NOT miss this one. Funny, touching, smart. Will want to watch more than once.
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