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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.93%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 1.79%
Total Crap: 5.36%

4 reviews, 32 user ratings

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Lawn Dogs
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by Natasha Theobald

"Dare to hope for something extraordinary."
4 stars

I recently watched "Abandon," a movie I really liked until it was undermined by an off-putting ending. This movie is the utter opposite. This is a good movie that leaves you with such a great, last burst of creativity and overwhelming imagery that, if you connected to anything within it at all, you can't help but feel exhilarated by the final, magical gasp.

Trent (Sam Rockwell) cares for the lawns of a local gated community, but he has been asked to be on the outside of the gates by 5 p.m. The haves don't mind the intrusion of this have-not as long as he stays mostly invisible and mostly outside. This is with the exception of a few who want something else from him, but, even then, he is just a body to be used. Then, one day Devon (Mischa Barton), a young girl who is new to the community, wanders past its gates into the wilderness, finding Trent's trailer and stumbling into his life.

Against his better judgement about the risks of getting involved, he accepts her extended hand of friendship. The two connect in a way that neither quite expected and gain an understanding and perspective about the kind of lives the other has led. Both know, though, that the friendship would not be seen in its true innocence and wonder by the outside world, so both agree to keep it a secret. But, as often happens in places where a facade replaces the truth, the honest face of things eventually shines through the shadows. That is when the trouble begins.

This movie is an interesting mix of stark realism and fantastical fairy tale. Devon infuses Trent's life with a child's innocent and magical view of the world, though she is not unaware of its realities. When the real world comes crashing in, though, it is not the magic which is overtaken. Devon's idealism and imagination are more interesting given that she has had very real problems with her health, with her heart. But, it seems that maybe she knows something the rest of us don't or has a gift of seeing what the rest of us cannot or will not. She brings a light and energy into Trent's world that it seems to have always lacked.

Trent is an interesting character, and the things Sam Rockwell does with him make him even more so. He is unpredictable in the best possible way. His choices are never out of character, but it is within his nature to surprise. He has an odd charisma that draws people to him who would not normally spare their time, but, at his core, he seems deeply lonely and tragically sad and knowing. The world around him has given him a place, but it doesn't seem to fit the person that he ultimately yearns to be. He is an outsider who doesn't want in, per se, but wants just to be acknowledged, respected -- merely seen.

Christopher McDonald and Kathleen Quinlan are on hand as Devon's parents. The actors seem keenly aware of what deeply flawed people they are playing, but that self-awareness works in a way, by contrast with the characters' complete lack of awareness. All of the performances are good, with Sam Rockwell standing out as exceptionally sincere. His performance alone is worth a look at this tale.

It is not often that movie audiences are treated to something a little different that has a strong, unique voice and vision like this one. Following this story down its path offers a taste of something extraordinary for those who are open to its appeal.

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originally posted: 03/29/03 17:07:35
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User Comments

3/29/16 Aj wales Movie does not age. Dreamlike fairytale. Emotional ending. Watch. 5 stars
7/01/11 Anon E. Muss That's how you tell a story. Exceptionally well done. 5 stars
7/11/07 not Trent Sam Rockwell's character's name is Trent, and the girl is Devon. 4 stars
4/23/07 tynecastle21 Refreshing t see an American not reliant on big names, big budget and special effects. Exce 5 stars
11/26/06 Lawn Duk Dong Hang yourself with the laces of Micha's Keds before watching this pile of doggie poo. 1 stars
7/14/06 Gord - the Mad Doctor Without a doubt, the best movie in my collection. 5 stars
7/05/05 anon I wanna say that Misha Barton sux in all her movies>:( and shes a ugly lil slut 1 stars
6/03/05 John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt No no "Disappointed" YOU think you're smarter than you really are. Brilliant film. 5 stars
5/22/05 disappointed thinks it is far smarter than it really is. 1 stars
3/08/05 Song The young girl's name is Devon, not Trent. Get it right. No credibility as a reviewer. 2 stars
10/06/04 Meaghan Mischa Barton plays a fantastic role and i really enjoyed watching this movie! 5 stars
6/02/03 michelle LOVED IT! 5 stars
1/23/03 Pinkline Jones Excellent film - imaginative and thoughtful 5 stars
5/18/02 Lisa I'm sorry, but isn't her name Devon? Not Trent.. 5 stars
12/24/01 Ray Foltz Great movie!Mischa Barton is great and sexy! 5 stars
12/14/01 Andrew Mchugh Visually superb with twisted humour and fear 5 stars
10/22/01 muddy Great job from Sam Rockwell and Mischa Barton. (note: The diving scene was cool!) 5 stars
10/21/01 kylie it rocked 5 stars
9/27/01 Xerox Sam Rockwell did a much better job in "Jerry and Tom".A better film I might add. 4 stars
9/07/01 Jeff It was pretty interesting, and it was filmed in my neighborhood--so it was fun to watch 4 stars
9/02/01 Devereux delicious discovery!! thanks 5 stars
2/03/01 Piotr I love it! Devon is adorable 5 stars
10/21/99 Lauren loved it.....filmed in my home city a couple blocks away from me....very realistic... 5 stars
8/15/99 Angela Maruca I love this movie!! I think SAM ROCKWELL IS AMAZING!! 5 stars
6/23/99 Nicole Toro Great flick, why haven't I heard of Sam Rockwell before? He was incredible. Big future. 5 stars
4/10/99 Jeff Very good flick--even if it was filmed in Kentucky. Mystical realism and no subtitles! 4 stars
11/25/98 Mr.Pink Magical movie that you won't forget. Highly Recommended! 5 stars
11/15/98 Barrie I wept and wept. Not from the sadness of the ending, but for the overall mysticism. Brill. 5 stars
9/26/98 MR HOLLYWOOD!! 1 word.......TOUCHING..........Wheres OSCAR ??? 4 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball Like a nursery rhyme that you keep thinking is going to turn into kiddie porn. Great. 5 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Almost Tim Burton-esque at times, a great dark comedy of a film. 4 stars
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  15-May-1998 (R)
  DVD: 08-Dec-1998



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