Dog Park (Independent Pictures) starts off shaky – in more ways than one. First, you experience the first few minutes of the film from a dog’s perspective. Second, the main character’s mental state is anything but stable.
In the beginning of the film, Andy (Luke Wilson, Home Fries) picks through the garbage at his ex-girlfriend’s new place and is more upset because she took the dog than by their break-up. Andy is a bit too pathetic to be likable, and his ex is too annoying and obnoxious to be anything but hated. Fortunately, Dog Park soon steadies itself as Andy lightens up, and the rest of the cast is introduced.
The highlight of the film is the romance between Andy and Lorna (Natasha Henstridge, Species). Wilson and Henstridge have an amazing chemistry that manages to shine through despite an unexciting plot. When Andy meets Lorna in a bar, his first words are typical, but the evening that follows is not what either of them expect.
The interactions between the pair even include great dialogue that’s unusual but endearing. When the two are on screen together, viewers are riveted. Unfortunately, these scenes are few and far between. Lorna decides not to date Andy, for reasons which are never explained. So the middle of the film focuses on their friends, their exes and other people they date.
Lorna’s best friend, Rachel (Amie Carey), tries to convince Lorna to go out with Andy, while Andy’s best friend, Jeri (Janeane Garofalo, Mystery Men), tells him that he needs to be single for a while. Although Garofalo’s acting in this part is good, and is certainly better than Carey’s, her comedic talents are stifled in this romantic comedy, which is definitely more romance than comedy. Andy ends up dating Keiran (Kristin Lehman, Alaska), who is aggressive and forward but oddly sympathetic.
Lorna is picked up in a video store by Calum (Harland Williams, Dumb and Dumber), a guy who is appealingly perceptive but completely strange. Both Lehman and Williams play their parts well and are amusing in their roles. Their characters, however, are both too weird to be believable as romantic partners for Lorna and Andy. So, you are left waiting for Andy and Lorna to meet up again in one of the unbelievable coincidences that plague Dog Park.
The other characters in Dog Park are the dogs. All of the main characters have dogs, and they take them to the dog park. Yet, it still seems like a weak and unsuccessful attempt to make Dog Park different from every other movie that follows the romantic angst of a group of young, good-looking characters whose lives are way too intertwined to be realistic. Also, none of the couples in the film actually meet in the dog park, despite what commercials would have you believe.
Henstridge and Wilson give good performances in well-written roles. The other actors give performances that range from pretty good to terrible, but in the end, there’s simply too much going on in Dog Park to allow you to care about all the characters. The combination of a terrible concept, an uneven script and several good actors produce a movie that has its moments but is not a great film.
Dog Park is playing in theaters.