Dog tired

Lawn Dogs promising premise fades into a predictable fairy tale

Meanwhile, Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13) turns Devon's mom into a deviant June Cleaver by sending one of the area college boys under her summer dress to toss her salad as she finishes the one for the cookout. But these flashes of ingeniousness wilt and die from underexposure.

The scenes between the Camelot Garden residents and Trent grow increasingly generic. The heavy-handed lifting up of the unpolished--at times brutal, but still good, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth people--while casting the rich as ignorant, classist, and perhaps downright evil, becomes simply annoying. By the time Trent takes Devon to his parents' home, and we learn that he sends money home to his dying father, a Korean War veteran, any high steps the film had are long gone, replaced by saccharine melodrama. And that's before "Knocking on Heaven's Door" swells up on the soundtrack.

From there it's the predictable run of misunderstandings and cheap sentimentality ending in violence. A late dash of magic realism as the Baba Yaga story comes to life is too little, too late.

Ultimately, Lawn Dogs may be a fairy tale, but it's still a movie for adults. Devon may not understand, but we are already well-versed in the idea that some people own lawns and some people mow lawns, and rarely are those people the same. There's no reason to dumb it down for the audience. There's no need to treat us like children.

Lawn Dogs.
Directed by John Duigan. Written by Naomi Wallace. Starring Sam Rockwell, Mischa Barton, Christopher MacDonald, and Kathleen Quinlan. Opens Friday.

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