Entertainment Weekly - 02/22/2002
"...Branagh, in his most forceful non-Shakespearean screen performance, grounds even the softest moments in the angry revolt of his wit..."
New York Times - 02/22/2002
"...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..."
Peter McGowan (Kenneth Branagh) is a Los Angeles playwright with writer's block. He still carries a reputation as a cynical bad boy, an image he earned with the gigantic success of edgy plays he wrote when he was much younger. Now Peter is a more mature man who has settled into a comfortable domestic life with his beautiful, encouraging, modern, fun young wife Melanie (Robin Wright Penn), who wants nothing more than to have a baby. But Peter, an impotent insomniac, can't even imagine it. His last few plays have not fared well at the box office, which only makes it more imperative that he pour genius into his newest work. Juggling moody actors (Johnathan Schaech and Kaitlin Hopkins) and a deeply distracted producer (Peter Riegert), Peter searches desperately for a muse. He finds it in Amy (Suzi Hofrichter), the 6-year-old daughter of his new neighbors. Amy is a shy girl with a mild case of cerebral palsy who takes instantly to the McGowans, and even learns to dance when Melanie, a children's ballet teacher, agrees to teach her. Though Peter begins to write again, he still suffers from insomnia and he wanders the streets at night, sometimes meeting up with a homeless man (Jared Harris) who is his doppelganger. All in all, HOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DOG is a somber family drama that finds a pleasing balance between Peter's grouchiness and Melanie's peppiness.