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Must Love Dogs (2005)
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Review Date: December 13, 2005
Director: Gary David Goldberg
Writer: Gary David Goldberg
Producers: Gary David Goldberg, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd
Actors:
Diane Lane as Sarah
John Cusack as Jake
Christopher Plummer as Bill
Plot:
A recently divorced 40-something woman is forced back into the dating world by her supportive (read: pushy) family who decide to create a profile for her on an Internet dating website, after which she starts seeing some of the men who responded to her ad. A recently divorced man who builds boats for a living turns out to be one of those men, and along the way, the couple get along, then don’t get along, then don’t like each other, then sorta get along again, and well…you see where this is going, right? A romantic comedy ensues.
Critique:
This might be yet another case of low expectations ultimately helping me to enjoy a pretty basic “chick flick”, but if what you’re looking for in a romantic comedy is your standard two appealing lead characters, a few clever jokes here and there, plenty of “cozy” atmosphere, a bunch of supportive/or goofy secondary characters and some supposed obstacles along the way, this film is likely perfect for you to rent and watch with your significant other. Sure, it feels about as manufactured as the dirty shoes that I’m sporting right now, but that’s not to say that it’s an all-out Ephron cake of superficiality. In fact, some of the film’s more genuinely cute moments were enough for me to look past some of the “movie stuff” like the family “spontaneously” all getting up to sing along to the “Partridge Family” theme during one of their many dinners. That sequence actually made me think about the idea of breaking out into song with my own family in real life and it just cracked me up. If I got up during dinner and started singing a song, not only would the rest of my family NOT join in on the refrain, but I would likely be tossed into a funny farm soon thereafter. In movies though…everyone joins in, claps along and the audience doesn’t think twice about it. Does this ever happen in real life though? The same can be said for the film’s horribly clichéd ending which features a rowboat, one of the characters chasing the other one and ultimately, a jump into the water (followed by a make-out session in front of the butcher at the grocery store). Yeah, I know…it’s about as cheesy as it gets, but most of the film isn’t that bad.

In fact, Diane Lane is drop-dead-gorgeous and affable, while John Cusack continues to be the man, and not-so-surprisingly, they hit it off pretty well in this movie, with some palpable chemistry to boot. Cusack plays the fast-talking sensitive guy really well (natch), and Lane handles her “over-age” sexpot-who-doesn’t-know-it role like a champ. Of course, you have to get past the fact that either of these people really would have any trouble finding the right person in real life, but that’s movies, I guess. The film also adds a little extra flavor to the basic storyline with somewhat fun secondary characters like Lane’s dad, playing by Christopher Plummer, as well as a number of enjoyable female characters and a salt-and-pepper haired Dermot Mulroney. Ultimately though, the film plays on the universal fear of one “being alone”, and handles most of the “cute meet” moments, first dates and awkward silences with a sense of fun, and actually cracked me up a couple of times (the condom-finding mission). Sure, I could have done without the very corny ending, its musical montages, the staple gay supportive couple, the prerequisite scene featuring Lane eating by herself late at night, and would have appreciated a little more suspense in the happenings, but this is a “chick flick” by the numbers featuring two appealing leads that offers a good dose of humor and romance to satisfy most anyone looking for just that, out of their video store rental. Nothing more, and maybe a little less.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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