Year of the Dog appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though never bad, the transfer consistently looked drab.
Sharpness was one issue. Much of the movie looked okay, but wide shots tended toward softness, and not a lot of great delineation appeared. The general impression the transfer left was of a moderately ill-defined image. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement seemed absent. I noticed no source defects, but the movie looked grainier than expected.
Colors looked lackluster. Granted, the film never attempted bright, lively hues, but I still thought these seemed too bland anyway. They tended to appear somewhat flat and runny. Blacks were acceptably deep, but shadows tended to appear somewhat muddy and heavy. Too much of the movie seemed messy and murky to me. While I thought the movie remained watchable, this was a pretty ordinary image.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Year of the Dog, it seemed pretty low-key. Not much happened to bring the soundfield to life. Music offered reasonably good stereo imaging. Effects played a minor role. They added some specifics at times, but the track usually stayed subdued and focused on general environmental information. The surrounds broadened the spectrum in a moderate way at most.
Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no problems with the dialogue. Effects were clear and accurate, even if they did stay in the background. Music seemed fine as well. This was a serviceable soundtrack.
In terms of extras, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Mike White and actor Molly Shannon. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss cast, characters and performances, working with various animals, White’s experiences as a first-time director, inspirations, why Shannon took the project, music, and a few other production tidbits.
Overall, the pair offer a sporadically useful chat. Actually, it works better than I anticipated, mainly because White can be a rather introverted, subdued subject. However, he proves reasonably chatty here; White definitely carries most of the load, as Shannon doesn’t offer a ton of into. The track moves along at a decent clip and gives us a smattering of nice insights, though it peters out toward the end. Anyway, this never threatens to be one of the better commentaries, but it’s worth a listen.
We get a series of featurettes here as well. A Special Breed of Comedy: The Making of Year of the Dog lasts 16 minutes, 17 seconds and includes movie shots, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Shannon, White, producers Dede Gardner and Ben Leclair, and actors Regina King, Peter Sarsgaard, John C. Reilly, and Laura Dern. The show looks at the movie’s inspiration, its story and its goals, cast and characters, White’s influence and the tone of the production, sets and design, and general thoughts.
“Breed” doesn’t come across as a promotional piece, but it doesn’t do much to inform us about the film. Though a smattering of decent details emerge along the way, most of the show adopts a pretty fluffy tone that tries to make us like the movie. It’s not a terrible piece, but it’s disposable.
For the four-minute and 10-second Being Molly Shannon, we find notes from Shannon and White as they discuss Shannon’s career and her work on Year. Despite a few interesting notes, this mostly feels like the “Molly’s Great!” show. It doesn’t offer a lot of substance.
Mike White Unleashed fills four minutes, 17 seconds and feature comments from White, Shannon, Sarsgaard, Reilly, Dern, King, and Leclair. The piece looks at White’s directorial debut and his work preferences. As with “Being”, this one often gives us your basic happy talk. However, White manages to convey some insights into his work. It remains spotty, but it’s got enough to it to merit a screening.
Next we see the three-minute and 44-second Special Animal Unit. It provides remarks from Shannon, White, and head animal trainer Ursula Brauner. We learn a little about the dogs used in the film and their work. Despite the clip’s brevity, it proves pretty informative. Or maybe I just like it because we get to spend more time with the pups and I’m a sucker for that.
Seven Deleted Scenes last a total of 11 minutes, 51 seconds. These include “Peggy Misses Pencil” (0:43), “Cat Hoarder” (1:04), “Peggy Isn’t Ready to Take Valentine” (1:31), “’It’s Time to Put Your Dog to Bed’” (2:12), “Newt and Peggy Get to Know Each Other (Extended Version)” (2:52), “Newt and Peggy Make Up” (2:07), and “Peggy and Lissie Commune with the Animals” (1:21). Should any of these clips have stayed in the final flick? Nope, not in my opinion. Some come across as little more than animal rights propaganda; though that’s a cause I support, the scenes don’t fit in the movie. Others just seem redundant or even negative, such as the one that makes Robin come across like more of a jerk. I’m happy we get to see these, but I think they all deserved to be cut.
We can view these with or without commentary from White. He remains low-key as he tells us a little about the scenes and why he cut them. White doesn’t give us a ton of information, but at least he provides decent basics.
An Insert Reel goes for one minute, 50 seconds. Basically this offers a look at the details of the movie’s props. It’s fun to take a closer look at these little bits of life strewn through the flick. We also locate a three-minute and five-second Gag Reel. It’s less interesting, as it just provides the standard goofs and silliness from the set.
A promotional featurette called Moviefone Unscripted lasts six minutes, 56 seconds and features White and Shannon. They ask each other questions and take some from viewers as well. They don’t give us a lot of depth, but we get enough quirky questions to make the show interesting.
A promo for Next opens the DVD. It also shows up in the Previews domain along with a clip for Blades of Glory.
When I went into Year of the Dog, I expected a annoyingly cute and quirky romantic comedy. To my pleasant surprise, I found a movie that provides an emotional, charming look at how people find what makes them happy. The DVD offers mediocre picture and audio as well as some decent supplements. Though the DVD doesn’t impress, I like the movie enough to recommend it.