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Must Love Dogs (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Must Love Dogs

MUST LOVE DOGS (2005)

Starring Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins, Christopher Plummer, Dermot Mulroney, Stockard Channing, Ali Hillis, Brad William Henke, Julie Gonzalo, Glenn Howerton, Ben Shenkman, Jordana Spiro, Kirk Trutner, Victor Webster and Michael Spound.

Screenplay by Gary David Goldberg.

Directed by Gary David Goldberg.

Distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures. 98 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Must Love Dogs is far from a great movie, but I liked it.

It is kind of clichéd. The usually clever dialogue occasionally clunks. The film is full of unbelievable coincidences. Writer/director Gary David Goldberg’s sitcom roots (Family Ties, Spin City) are often obvious. Like every other film about an aging woman, there is a cutesy scene where she has to sing a kitschy old pop song (this one is the Partridge Family’s “Come On Get Happy.”). Even John Cusack, who is always interesting to watch, seems to be phoning it in a bit. 

But I still liked it. 

Most of this falls straight in the capable hands of Diane Lane, who is impressive as an aging glamour actress who is willing to play her age without apology or pretense. Lane plays Sarah, a recent divorcée who is so distraught over her divorce that she withdraws from the dating race. She has convinced herself that she is best off suffering alone than taking a chance of getting hurt again.

Problem is, her loudly flamboyant (and very nosy) family can’t stand to see her single, so she is constantly being fixed up with guys. Then her sister (Elizabeth Perkins) puts her on a singles web site. Sarah goes on a series of disastrous dates, all of which make her sure that she was right to give up on love.

Cusack plays Jake, who has also been gutted by romance and is also now determined to sit on the bench when it comes to women. A buddy signs him up for a date with Sarah, and although they have two insanely uncomfortable dates, we are expected to believe that there is a spark. The two are charming together, even when Cusack isn’t hitting on all cylinders, they seem the kind of couple that should work. So, it is surprising, though not shocking, when they are consumed by lust at the end of the second bad date. However, a series of miscues stops them from acting on their passion.

Just when she may have found a potential love interest, Sarah is blindsided by a handsome divorcé (Dermot Mulroney) who starts seriously flirting with her. He’s gorgeous, he’s charming, he’s confident… will Sarah pick him or the overly intense, neurotic Jake?

You know the answer as well as I do. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride getting there. (7/05)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 24, 2005.

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