How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog

Last updated
How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog
Release Poster
Directed by Michael Kalesniko
Produced byMichael Nozik
Nancy M. Ruff
Brad Weston
Written byMichael Kalesniko
Starring Kenneth Branagh
Robin Wright Penn
Music byDavid Robbins
CinematographyHubert Taczanowski
Edited byPamela Martin
Distributed byLonsdale Productions
Release date
  • September 16, 2000 (2000-09-16)(Toronto) [1]
  • February 22, 2002 (2002-02-22)(United States; limited)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$48,564

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog is a 2000 American black comedy film written and directed by Michael Kalesniko and produced by Michael Nozik, Nancy M. Ruff and Brad Weston. It stars Kenneth Branagh and Robin Wright Penn.



Peter McGowan (Kenneth Branagh) is a chain-smoking, impotent, insomniac British playwright who lives in Los Angeles. Once very successful, he is now in the tenth year of a decade-long string of production failures. His latest play is in the hands of effeminate director Brian Sellars (David Krumholtz), who is obsessed with Petula Clark; his wife Melanie (Robin Wright Penn) is determined to have a baby; he finds himself bonding with a new neighbor's lonely young daughter (Suzi Hofrichter) who has mild cerebral palsy; and during one of his middle-of-the-night strolls, he encounters his oddball doppelgänger (Jared Harris) who claims to be Peter McGowan and develops a friendship of sorts with him.



Petula Clark's recordings of "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love" and "A Groovy Kind of Love" were heard during the opening and closing credits respectively, and "Downtown 99", a disco remix of her 1964 classic "Downtown", was heard during a party scene. Additional songs originally recorded by Petula Clark were sung by the character of Brian Sellars throughout the film.


As of July 2020, the film holds a 58% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 33 reviews with an average rating 6.02/10. [2]

In his review in The New York Times , Stephen Holden described the film as "a Hollywood rarity, a movie about an icy grown-up heart-warmed by a child that doesn't wield emotional pliers to try to squeeze out tears…. It is a tribute to Mr. Branagh's considerable comic skills that he succeeds in making a potentially insufferable character likable by infusing him with the same sly charm that Michael Caine musters to seduce us into cozying up to his sleazier alter egos…. Mr. Kalesniko's satirically barbed screenplay, whose spirit harks back to the comic heyday of Blake Edwards, stirs up an insistent verbal energy that rarely flags." [3]

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated the movie B and said, "Branagh, in his most forceful non-Shakespeare screen performance, grounds even the softest moments in the angry revolt of his wit." [4] Justine Elias of The Village Voice stated it was "slight but unendurable…its fractured time frame gets confusing". [5]

The film was the prestigious closing night film at the 2000 Toronto International Film Festival and won multiple festival awards. It was released as Mad Dogs and Englishmen in Australia.

Related Research Articles

Robin Wright American actress and director

Robin Gayle Wright is an American actress and director. She has won a Golden Globe Award and a Satellite Award, as well as earned eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations, for her work in television.

<i>Hamlet</i> (1996 film)

Hamlet is a 1996 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as Prince Hamlet. The film also features Derek Jacobi as King Claudius, Julie Christie as Queen Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Michael Maloney as Laertes, Richard Briers as Polonius, and Nicholas Farrell as Horatio. Other cast members include Robin Williams, Gérard Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Rufus Sewell, Charlton Heston, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench, John Gielgud and Ken Dodd.

Kenneth Branagh Northern Irish actor, director, screenwriter, and producer

Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh is a Northern Irish actor and filmmaker. Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London; in 2015 he succeeded Richard Attenborough as its president. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. He has won three BAFTAs and two Emmy Awards. He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours and knighted on 9 November 2012. He was made a Freeman of his native city of Belfast in January 2018. In 2020, he was listed at number 20 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.

The year 2000 in film involved some significant events. The top grosser worldwide was Mission: Impossible 2. Domestically in North America, Gladiator won the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor. Dinosaur was the most expensive film of 2000 and a box-office success.

Petula Clark British actress and singer

Petula Clark, CBE is a British singer, actress, and composer.

<i>Dead Again</i> 1991 US neo-noir romantic thriller film by Kenneth Branagh

Dead Again is a 1991 American neo-noir romantic thriller film directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Scott Frank. It stars Branagh and Emma Thompson, with Andy García, Derek Jacobi, Wayne Knight, and Robin Williams appearing in supporting roles.

<i>Celebrity</i> (film)

Celebrity is a 1998 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, and features an ensemble cast. The screenplay describes the divergent paths a couple takes following their divorce.

<i>All Is True</i> 2018 film by Kenneth Branagh

All Is True is a 2018 British fictional historical film directed by Kenneth Branagh, written by Ben Elton. It stars Branagh as playwright William Shakespeare. The film takes its title from an alternative name for Shakespeare's play Henry VIII.

<i>Goodbye, Mr. Chips</i> (1969 film)

Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a 1969 American musical film directed by Herbert Ross. The screenplay by Terence Rattigan is based on James Hilton's 1934 novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips, which was first adapted for the screen in 1939.

<i>Mary Shelleys Frankenstein</i> (film) 1994 horror film directed by Kenneth Branagh

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a 1994 science fiction horror film directed by Kenneth Branagh, and starring Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Ian Holm, John Cleese, and Aidan Quinn. The film was produced on a budget of $45 million and is considered the most faithful film adaptation of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, despite several differences and additions in plot from the novel.

Norman Newell was an English record producer, mainly active in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as co-writer of many notable songs. As an A&R manager for EMI, he worked with musicians such as Shirley Bassey, Dalida, Claude François, Vera Lynn, Russ Conway, Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Petula Clark, Jake Thackray, Malcolm Roberts, Bobby Crush and Peter and Gordon. Newell was particularly known for his recorded productions of West End musicals.

<i>Shes So Lovely</i> 1997 film directed by Nick Cassavetes

She's So Lovely is a 1997 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes, written by John Cassavetes. At the time of its release, it received special attention because, eight years after his death, it was the first posthumous film to feature previously unreleased material from John Cassavetes.

Tani L. Cohen is an American film producer.

<i>Shackleton</i> (TV serial)

Shackleton is a 2002 British television film written and directed by Charles Sturridge and starring Kenneth Branagh as explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The film tells the true story of Shackleton's 1914 Antarctic expedition on the ship Endurance. The cast includes Kevin McNally, Lorcan Cranitch, Embeth Davidtz, Danny Webb, Matt Day and Phoebe Nicholls as Lady Shackleton. It was filmed in the UK, Iceland and Greenland. The film used first-hand accounts by the men on the expedition to retell the story. Shackleton biographer Roland Huntford was a production advisor.

<i>Venus Peter</i>

Venus Peter is a 1989 British film directed by Ian Sellar and produced by Christopher Young for Young films. The film is an adaptation of the novel A Twelvemonth and a Day by Christopher Rush. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. It was filmed on the Orkney Islands, in the North of Scotland. The film crew paid members of the Orkney community to act as extras in the film.

<i>Vote for Huggett</i>

Vote for Huggett is a 1949 British comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison, Susan Shaw and Petula Clark. Warner reprises his role as the head of a London family, in the post-war years.

<i>The Huggetts Abroad</i>

The Huggetts Abroad is a 1949 British film starring Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison, Petula Clark and Susan Shaw. It was the final film of The Huggetts. The film was less commercially successful than its predecessors. A sequel, Christmas with the Huggetts, was planned but never made.

Anthony McGowan

Anthony John McGowan is an English author of books for children, teenagers and adults. He is the winner of the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal for Lark.

<i>The Gay Dog</i>

The Gay Dog is a 1954 British comedy film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Wilfred Pickles, Petula Clark and Megs Jenkins. It was filmed at Southall Studios, and features Petula Clark singing "A Long Way to Go", written by Joe Henderson and Leslie Clark. The film was based on a play by Joseph Colton; also starring Pickles and Jenkins, it had run at London's Piccadilly Theatre for 276 performances from June 1952 to February 1953.

<i>Murder on the Orient Express</i> (2017 film) 2017 film by Kenneth Branagh

Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 American mystery thriller film directed by Kenneth Branagh with a screenplay by Michael Green, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. The film stars Branagh as Hercule Poirot, with Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley in supporting roles. The film is the fourth screen adaptation of Christie's novel, following the 1974 film, a 2001 TV film version, and a 2010 episode of the television series Agatha Christie's Poirot. The plot follows Poirot, a world-renowned detective, as he investigates a murder on the luxury Orient Express train service in the 1930s.


  1. "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog - TIFF Press Conference". Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  2. "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  3. Holden, Stephen (February 22, 2002). "Film Review; A Tale of 2 Neighbors, Both Pains in the Neck". The New York Times . Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  4. Gleiberman, Owen. "How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog". Entertainment Weekly . Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  5. Elias, Justine. "Criminal Mischief". The Village Voice . New York. Retrieved June 19, 2016.