Films Within Films: The Dogwalker

Obligatory one-time intro to a new feature: I love movies within movies. I simply do. Whenever I see a fake movie that only exists for the characters of the film I'm watching, it's like there's this whole other cinematic world I'm missing out on, out there in Dimension X. And I'm just lucky enough to have peered through the veil between worlds and caught a glimpse. Many are parody or satire, some seem more real, and more often than you'd think, they're movies you really really really want to see. In extremely few cases, someone has gone ahead and made them.

In this series of blog posts, not only will we take a look at a variety of films within films, but I've somehow gotten access to reviews from Dimension X (a world not so strange, where THEY can't believe our world has produced Swiss Army Man), presumably from an alternative Siskoid who has seen the entire things.

The Dogwalker
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei
Genre: Indie/drama/romance
Precis: A May-October romance between a pet owner and her traumatized dogwalker.
Review: Following in the footsteps of directors like Woody Allen and Hal Hartley, a new generation of New York artists have been producing indie films set in the Big Apple, among vaguely listless, but ambitious young people not unlike themselves. The results have energized the East Coast independent scene with such fare as Tiny Furniture, Listen Up Philip, Frances Ha, and now, The Dogwalker. But is the latter, from Syosset NY native son Judd Apatow, really as good as the others?

For one thing, the New York experience is subverted by details that make the movie feel like a Canadian production. Note the Tim Horton's coffee in the double-entendered scene where the two lovers meet for the first time. Is this New York, or Toronto-as-NYC? Perhaps the film is in black and white less for budget concerns or artiess than to hide the Spring's left-over snowbanks.  Be wary of foreign product placement, junior directors.

But setting that aside for the time being, there's a certain indie temerity in casting the younger man against the older woman without making a meal of it, and it's that approach that prevents the film from falling into cliché. Marisa Tomei - watchable in anything - is mothering without being a mother, except to her small dog, while Daniel Radcliffe carries off his usual boyishness with wounded aplomb. A man held back by personal tragedy, but not too much.

Ultimately, this is about a man who cannot commit to a single dog and walks them all, contrasted to a one-dog woman, fully satisfied by the "handful" her pooch represents. As they move together, her fullness completes his "never enough". It's a story we've seen before, but couched in a new metaphor, one steeped in the themes of loyalty, unconditional love, and going out to the park on a regular basis.

Watch what clips have filtered through to our universe (courtesy of Trainwreck, 2015):

Final rating: 3.5 bones out of 5
Would see if it were made: Yes.


snell said...

Tim Horton's is in the U.S. now, and has several New York City locations. Even Kalamazoo has two...

Siskoid said...

We obviously don't live on the same Earth. Shhhhh ;-)

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I love this series concept! A half-dozen movies-within-movies popped into my head right away; I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Any chance you might include tv series? I'd love to see your thoughts on Trevor Slattery's Caged Heat, or the original 70s (80s?) Galaxy Quest series.

Siskoid said...

Oh yeah, I'm sure I'll meander... Extras has a lot of movies I'd love to poke fun at, for example.

Jonathan Linneman said...

Agreed, great idea for a series!

Michael May said...

Yay! So glad you're doing this.

And I agree about The Dogwalker. I'm sorry that doesn't exist.

Siskoid said...

And thanks for providing some of the initial inspiration, Michael!


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