LA Film Fest 2013
By Don Simpson | June 20, 2013
Director: Joe Burke
Writers: Joe Burke, Oliver Cooper
Starring: Oliver Cooper, Dan Bakkedahl, Rebecca Goldstein, Kathleen McNearney, Jennifer Batter
Oliver (Oliver Cooper) is a struggling actor who lives with his aunt (Rebecca Goldstein) in Encino, California. Actually, Oliver is taking a break from acting, spending his days smoking weed in his aunt’s house while she flies around the world as an airline attendant. It seems as though the only way he legitimizes his free room and board is by taking care of his aunt’s four dogs while she is away; otherwise, Oliver is just a lazy, twentysomething slacker, caste in the mold of Jonah Hill.
Lonely and secluded in suburbia, Oliver creates a strange array of characters to entertain himself, essentially developing his own invisible friends. Oliver’s only real friend, Dan (Dan Bakkedahl), is twice his age. They met a while ago in acting school, though neither one of them seems to understand why they are friends. Misery loves company, I guess; or maybe misery just enjoys having a miserable friend with a car to shuttle him around. Both men — or, rather, man-childs — do share a certain kinship in their desperation for female attention. Oliver quickly develops an obsession with the soon-to-be-divorced Diane (Kathleen McNearney), while Dan is fixated on an acting partner from school.
Writer-director Joe Burke’s Four Dogs focuses on the averageness of Oliver and Dan’s existence as well as the averageness of cookie-cutter life in Encino. There is nothing glitzy or glamorous about life in this Los Angeles suburb, nor is there any grit or sleaze. This is a rarely revealed perspective of Los Angeles that could essentially be any strip mall infested suburb in the United States, just as Oliver and Dan could essentially be replaced by any one of us.