By Cameron Pattinson
What was your last year of high school like? If it’s anything like mine, then most likely boring and somewhat mundane, the majority of excitement stemming from the promise of your first steps outside traditional schooling. Ethan Eng and Justin Morris decided to spend their final year quite differently from your average teenager though and, under the guise of making a senior film, they barely attended their classes and instead documented their final year of high school.
The result of this wasn’t the senior film they had promised but instead Therapy Dogs, an instantly enjoyable collage of skits, real-life footage and fictional storylines that merge to create an encapsulation of high school that will resonate with any viewer who went through it.
The film’s non-linear structure and ability to zip between shaky cam documentation, surreal sketches and more emotional beats give it the legs to stretch beyond a rather simple idea. It’s clear that the two boys (now men) who were behind this were given free rein to be as ‘off the wall’ and nonsensical as they wished- the ultimate blessing for the film and its central topic. Therapy Dogs almost acts like this generation’s Napoleon Dynamite, albeit in a different form. It gives both a glimpse into the stereotypical life of a teenager in high school while still having its foot comedically stepping outside the border of realism. Both also split their audience between those who see brilliance, hilarity and sincerity and those who merely see a mindless and uninteresting end product.
For both of these movies, however, I fall on the former side of the argument. I am extremely grateful I was able to see Therapy Dogs, an exceedingly unique film created by people just like me and you who were merely looking to pass the time before their graduation. And who did so in some style.