I love black comedies in any way shape or form. And How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog is one of the more underrated black comedies of the 2000s. It stars Kenneth Branagh as Peter McGowan, a nervous chain-smoking playwright struggling to regain his former glory. Bitter and sarcastic, he’s a true outcast you either love to hate or simply identify with. Despite the fact we’re talking about middle or even upper-class family, the scenes feel very down-to-Earth. And I bet you’ve been in some of them too.
McGowan is a vessel, a walking sardonic social commentary questioning things we take for granted. His frustration and general unhappiness are the characteristics that make those comments and behavior more acceptable. You’re watching a man trying to come to terms with his life, legacy, and everything else in between. Something that we’re all doing almost all the time. Excellent dialogue might even help you to go through some of your own issues.
And have some fun in the meantime. How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog is an entertaining movie despite its slower pace. The performances were excellent, something you might’ve expected from such great actors. This is one of those movies you’ll ultimately forget about but have a great time watching. I only wish they went all the way and didn’t give in to melodrama at times. Keep that edge and just keep slicing mate!
Peter McGowan was an incredibly famous playwright back in the eighties. However, ten long years have passed since he had a hit. And his three latest plays have been disasters. At the same time, he’s also having some marital issues. To make things worse, when the new neighbor moves in, he brings a dog with him. And so, the struggle begins.
I think that How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog tackled too many subjects at the same time. This makes for a bit of disjointed storytelling but is still engaging because the subjects are so potent. And I’m not just saying this because we see a man going through a mid-life crisis because there’s so much more at play here. This is Michael Kalesniko’s first movie so all of this is quite understandable. I’m sure his next projects are going to be even better than this one.
Director: Michael Kalesniko
Writer: Michael Kalesniko
Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Robin Wright Penn, Suzi Hofrichter, Lynn Redgrave, Jared Harris
Fun Stuff: The film was the prestigious closing night film at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival and won multiple festival awards. It was released as Mad Dogs and Englishmen in Australia.