The Dog Problem

Director: Scott Caan

After shelling out nearly event cent of the money he earned from writing a successful but admittedly trashy novel on intensive psychotherapy, depressed Solo (the charismatic and likable Giovanni Ribisi) is advised two things by psychiatrist Dr. Nourmand (Don Cheadle).

The first piece of advice echoed throughout writer/director Scott Caan’s film The Dog Problem is that life is a delicate negotiation and the second is that now without the money to pay for therapy, maybe it would be best for Solo to get a pet.

Solo takes the advice to heart, dragging his wildly philandering photographer pal Casper (Caan) to the local mall where he purchases a dog, only to realize that his new four legged friend isn’t actually magically going to solve all of his problems and instead may indeed create more.

And sure enough, Solo realizes that for once, he needs to be in charge when his relationship with the unnamed adorable toy dog becomes mixed up in the seedy dealings of his life. To this end, we soon meet the eccentric characters who populate his world including Casper’s friend Jules (obviously based on Paris Hilton) and played to perfection by Mena Suvari as a poor little rich girl who spends her time spoiling unwanted dogs while calling the humans around her “bitch,” along with Benny (Kevin Corrigan), a small time thug to whom Solo owes money.

Both parties take an unexpected liking to the dog and Solo is also led down a possible romantic path after the puppy is attacked at a dog park and he tries to find a resolution with Lola (Lynn Collins) the woman responsible who is also a good-natured stripper that becomes an unlikely ally to Solo.

While the film overall is a far-fetched male fantasy, it’s also silly, high energy fun made with style that announces itself from the innovative opening credit sequence to the movie’s score by Mark Mothersbaugh (Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums). Likewise Caan (son of actor James Caan and Sheila Ryan) proves to be someone to watch with this clever sophomore effort that was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.