Must Love Dogs


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Must Love Dogs
"Its predictability acts like comfort food and the complete absence of surprise feels satisfying, like a Wendy's double burger with cheese."

Dogs are not the issue. Being divorced and over the age of youthful indiscretion is.

Sarah (Diane Lane) has a supportive, large and inquisitive family to keep her in touch with suitable (unattached) men. She doesn't know what to do. She can't face it. Going on dates? She's so out of practice, she's forgotten the moves.

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Jake (John Cusack) has an annoying lawyer friend, who listens to his self-pitying rants about how much he loves his ex-wife and doesn't want anything to do with women ever again. Or, at least, for the next 24 hours.

The subject matter is a contemporary issue of considerable importance, treated here as an advertisement for internet dating. Its predictability acts like comfort food and the complete absence of surprise feels satisfying, like a Wendy's double burger with cheese.

It should be possible to make a rom-com that doesn't have You've Got Mail reference points. It should be possible to make a film about a lonely woman's search for love (a shag would be nice) without involving a gay couple as emotional padding. It should be possible to introduce a running gag that doesn't choke on its own vomit.

If so, Must Love Dogs hasn't found a way.

In the end, such films that are formulaic to their manicured fingertips and involve Dermot Mulroney in some capacity must stand or fall on their performances.

The best Doggy person is Elizabeth Perkins, as Sarah's elder sister, but she's not around enough. Lane is always good, except Sarah is not interesting, having accepted the wife-is-a-wife-is-a-wife attitude to marriage before Kevin (thankfully off screen) took a runner.

"I guess he fell out of love," she remarks.

I guess so, hon.

Cusack could play Jake in his sleep - in fact, does - not that it makes much difference. This is about charm and straight talk and being fun with your clothes on.

You can trust Dogs to leave you feeling warm and empty. You can't trust divorcees to tell the truth about their fears. Here's the question: is it better to eat KrispieKrunch by yourself standing at the sink in a family-sized kitchen at 10 o'clock in the evening, or spend the night with a bloke who obsesses about hand-crafted racing skiffs?

The answer is rent Jake's favourite movie (Dr Zhivago) on DVD and stay at home. There's no law against crying alone.

Reviewed on: 17 Sep 2005
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Middle-something divorced animal lovers dabble with internet dating.
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Director: Gary David Goldberg

Writer: Gary David Goldberg, based on the novel by Claire Cook

Starring: Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins, Christopher Plummer, Dermot Mulroney, Stockard Channing, Ali Hillis, Brad William Henke, Julie Gonzalo, Glenn Howerson

Year: 2005

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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