Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kenneth Branagh, Robin Wright Penn, Suzi Hofrichter, Lynn Redgrave, Jared Harris, Peter Riegert, David Krumholtz, Johnathon Schaech, Kaitlin Hopkins, Suzy Joachim, Brett Rickaby, Lucinda Jenney, Derek Kellock, Stacy Hogue, Peri Gilpin
Written by: Michael Kalesniko
Directed by: Michael Kalesniko
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 107
Date: 09/16/2000

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (2002)

3 Stars (out of 4)

America's Favorite Bastard

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Kenneth Branagh stars as a grumpy L.A. playwright ("America's favorite bastard") who embarks upon a series of misadventures that cause the clever quips to come fast and furious.

His wife (Robin Wright Penn) bugs him for a child, and a little girl moves in next door. Meanwhile, Branagh's latest play is not coming together properly -- the child's dialogue just doesn't sound right.

At the same time, a stalker follows Branagh around his neighborhood, causing even more headaches. Of course, the little girl's honesty and purity redeems everyone (except her own selfish parents) in the end.

Writer and director Michael Kalesniko manages to keep all this stuff entertainingly cynical and doesn't let the ever-present sentimental goop overcome his story.

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog receives a belated theatrical release after it has already played on cable and has a looming video release date. But it's much better than any of that would lead you to believe.

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