Kicking the Dog

Kicking the Dog

The DVD case is intentionally misleading. Writer/director Scoot Lammey’s Kicking the Dog tries to play itself off as some sort of off-beat coming of age farce. But neither of the amazed dudes standing on the lawn are actually in the film. Nor is the dog with a deflated football on its head, or the girl, or the keg. Then there’s the tagline: “Twelve friends… one unforgettable summer!”

In reality, the movie is a lot more depressing than that. A group of people sit around in a house drinking beer and talking with one another about their sexual histories. I don’t know whether we’re supposed to sympathize with main characters Matt or Satchem, as they both come off as huge jackasses. The two are best buddies, and so they have a huge canon of embarrassing sex stories to tell in front of their girlfriends. Well, to be fair, Matt doesn’t have a girlfriend – mostly because he refuses the inexplicable advances of one of the group, aside from letting her give him oral sex real quick. Satchem, on the other hand, has a long-term girlfriend and the movie tries to make him a sympathetic character by showing him making a difficult decision between accepting a job offer out-of-state and staying in town with his girlfriend. But this really isn’t enough to make him anywhere near likable, as he has no qualms relating disgusting stories about the girls he’s slept with in the past. When his girlfriend gets mad, Satchem whines, “I like you because I can be myself around you!”

You could be forgiven for thinking writer/director Scoot Lammey an irredeemable misogynist. He is. In an interview with, I don’t know, himself?, Lammey explains how he came up with the title of the film. Hanging out at a party during his school days at Virginia Tech, he philosophized on the virtues of beating one’s girlfriend: “I would never lay a hand on my girlfriend, but a wife, I think she’s actually considered a man’s property in this state. Keeping the wife in line is just like kicking the dog.” Hilarious, no?

As the movie spins its disturbing web, please keep in mind that the movie is “basically” recounting Lammey’s own exploits. Of course, a few minor changes have been made. For instance, in the scene where a girl tells the story of using mayonnaise as a lubricant while having anal sex… well, Scoot was just being modest! In reality, he used ranch dressing! Lammey had a difficult time casting the women in the film, not because nobody wanted to be involved in this travesty, but because he was getting too many ugly chicks wanting to audition. Scoot explains: “They just waste yours and their own time. I wanted to tell them that they would be perfect if I was casting the chubby friend, or a whore, but I’d never end up calling them for those roles because their head shots are too misleading!”

But it’s not just women that the director demeans – he takes pride in exploiting his parents. The movie was filmed in his parents’ house, but they were not allowed to know anything about the film until the premiere, when they witnessed along with 200+ other people the horror. A “foot-job” (it’s exactly what it sounds like) being performed in their own bedroom, a man peeing on a window screen, a disgusting scene wherein Matt and Satchem share a condom (by turning it inside out so their weiners don’t touch the same place!), and so on.

To be honest, there’s more entertainment value in the writer/director himself than in the film, which goes nowhere and does nothing. Lammey claims to have made the film on a $72,000 budget, but I’m unsure where that money went. Most of it probably went to the film stock – it was shot on 16mm film for no particular reason other than to waste money. And I guess a lot of the money probably went to the beer. Real beer was used in every drinking scene to add, I dunno, authenticity? I don’t know whether you should really be worrying about authenticity when you’ve written a scene into your movie where one of your creepy main characters literally pleads with a girl to let him poke her breast for what seems like an eternity. It’s like only watching the disturbing Joe Francis parts of a Girls Gone Wild video where he’s trying to get the girls to take off their clothes. It’s just perpetually uncomfortable.

Kicking the Dog is terrible. It’s terrible. But it was also hilarious in how seemingly unreal the characters are, how unreal their situations are, and how unreal Scoot Lammey is. He is currently working on – I kid you not – “a period piece about hanging out”. This is a filmmaker to keep an eye on, for sure. He’s got nowhere to go but up.

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