Review: ‘Dogs in the Basement’

An often genuinely funny mockumentary that pokes fun at Americans' sexual insecurities, "Dogs in the Basement" manages to be forthright without being lubricious and exactly catches the dour earnestness of docus it spoofs. High-grade DV production deserves a 35mm transfer for specialized distribution. Fest auds will lap it up.

An often genuinely funny mockumentary that pokes fun at Americans’ sexual insecurities, “Dogs in the Basement” manages to be forthright without being lubricious and exactly catches the dour earnestness of docus it spoofs. High-grade DV production, and the first feature by Gotham-based documaker Leslie Shearing, deserves a 35mm transfer for specialized distribution. Fest auds, especially outside the U.S., will lap it up.

Upscale young couple, Joe and Mary St. John (Hans Hoffman, Heather Smith), who’ve been married for seven years haven’t had sex for, jeez, over a month. Between footage of them being an all-American couple and voicing their upbeat thoughts on the soundtrack, the couple visits a sex therapist (Douglas Manes); a deadly serious Slavic urologist (Shearing herself, in some of the funniest scenes); a wacko Tantric sex group (“Now, let’s look at our own yonies,” exhorts one of the women); and even anger management classes. Smith is especially good as Mary, a blonde account exec who’s so self-obsessed, it’s painful. Running time is just about right before the joke plays itself out.

Dogs in the Basement

Production

An Other Side Filmworks production. (International sales: Other Side, New York.) Produced by Hans Hoffman, Alan Oxman, Leslie Shearing. Directed, written by Leslie Shearing, with improvisations by the LabRats.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Peter Olsen, John Kelleran; editor, Lilah Bankier; music, Sabina Sciubba; music supervisor, Sue Jacobs; production designers, Donna Klimek, Michael Rose. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Cinema of the Americas -- U.S.A.), Sept. 1, 2003. Running time: 75 MIN.

With

Heather Smith, Hans Hoffman, Donna Klimek, Douglas Manes, Elizabeth Quinn, Michael Rose, Leslie Shearing.
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