Stars: Burt Reynolds, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane, Chevy Chase, Nikki Blonsky
1 HR 54 MIN
Dog years premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Most of the cast and the director/writer, Adam Rifkin, were in attendance for the début (I actually sat directly behind Chevy Chase and his family). The story centers around an aging actor, Vic Edwards (Burt Reynolds), adored in his youth by throngs of fans, who nows lives alone eating Hungry Man tv dinners with his equally senior dog (in a sad sequence the pup is put to sleep early in the movie).
Vic’s Hollywood contemporary and apparent only friend, Sonny (Chevy Chase), encourages Vic to attend the Nashville Film Festival where he is to be honored with the lifetime achievement award, arguing that some of the greats received it and attended in prior years. After some consideration, Vic departs LAX back to his home state of Tennesee. He doesn’t quite find the reception he was looking for but he may have gained far more in the end.
Though Vic Edwards is a fictional character, the movie brilliantly uses real film from Burt’s career throughout the film. There are several sequences where Vic is talking to a young Burt Reynolds (Vic, himself, from the movie’s point of view). The passage of time portrayed in this juxtaposition is profound. Though not a biopic about Burt Reynolds, the movie captures much of what it must feel like to have risen so far and to have it pass mostly into memory. The truth of that could be seen in Reynolds own comments during the post-screening Q&A where he said he was absolutely crying in many parts.
The movie has a pretty straightforward two person unlikely friendship story arc between Lil (Ariel Winters) and Vic. Lil doesn’t know Vic’s work and is not happy that she has to schlep Vic around for the weekend as a chauffeur. The rest of the cast has a small role to play in story and are not developed much beyond stereotypes. Overall, the movie is enjoyable as a nostalgic tribute to Reynolds terrific career even though it only goes skin deep.