Must Love Dogs (DVD) Review
One of the least appreciated films of 2005 is Must Love Dogs, an upbeat romantic comedy about two recent divorcees. Directed and adapted to screen by Gary David Goldberg, veteran TV writer for such shows as MASH and Family Ties, the film offers a number of laughs and very little in the way of strained or forced moments. As usual, John Cusack’s character appears on the big screen as an amicable and enigmatic personality. Cusack and Diane Lane make for a good onscreen pairing, but the script is somewhat lacking in its ability to deliver. Much like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, the concept and the couple are intriguing, but the unmet high expectations leave much to be desired… Must Love Dogs follows the life of Sarah Nolan (Diane Lane), a recently divorced preschool teacher attempting to move on with her life. Sarah’s sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) is constantly nagging her to get out and meet Mr.
Right, but her prodding does nothing to animate the borderline depressed Sarah. Nevertheless, Carol’s well-intentioned act of signing her sister onto PerfectMatch.com provides a handful of prospective leads. One of them is a recently divorced woodworking artist named Jake (John Cusack), and the two agree to meet in the park with their dogs. The encounter is a forgettable one, but the two develop a mild attraction to one another.
Meanwhile, Bob (Dermot Mulroney) the father of one of Sarah’s students, develops his own attraction for Sarah, forming a love triangle that leaves Sarah in utter confusion. As Sarah’s widowed father Bill (Christopher Plummer) plays the field with much greater success, it only seems to exacerbate Sarah’s disillusioned outlook. But when one of her father’s new female friends, the likeable and spunky Dolly (Stockard Channing) dispenses some of her own advice on life and relationships, it makes for a more interesting and humorous film. Caught in the lurch between two unknown outcomes, Sarah must choose the relationship that is right for her. But in the course of her hesitation, she risks losing the only relationship of the two which is truly worth her while. Fun and oftentimes witty, Must Love Dogs has some great scenes and original one-liners. Based on the bestselling novel by Claire Cook, Must Love Dogs will never be confused with a deeply symbolic or Oscar worthy picture, and the plot itself is quite predictable. But the film manages to do the most important job a film can do: entertain. Although it suffers at moments from use of bad dialogue, it’s not a total throwaway film. Like another recent Diane Lane movie, Under The Tuscan Sun, the mandatory gay friend with attractive significant other is present for relationship advice.
That’s just one of a variety of overused Hollywood clichés the viewer will encounter, along with the coincidence of Jake meeting Sarah’s father and Sarah’s end-of-the-movie race to embrace Jake, of which I must ask, why couldn’t she just wait until he got ashore? Because it wouldn’t make for a magical romantic movie ending, that’s why. Otherwise, Must Love Dogs is a likeable picture with many funny moments most will enjoy….
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