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Must Love Dogs DVD Review

Must Love Dogs

February 24, 2006

Director: Gary David Goldberg,
Starring: Diane Lane, John Cusack, Dermot Mulroney, Elizabeth Perkins, Stockard Channing, Christopher Plummer, Julie Gonzalo, Ali Hillis, Brad William Henke, Glenn Howerton, Ben Shenkman, Jordana Spiro,

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DVD Review

Diane Lane is an adept actress who has dabbled in many genres: action (Streets of Fire), art house (Rumble Fish) and thriller (Unfaithful) to name a few. With Must Love Dogs (2005) she takes another crack at the romantic comedy that she last pulled off rather successfully with the charming Under the Tuscan Sun (2003). Lane is not only a talented actress but one of the most beautiful over 40 women working in Hollywood today.

Sarah (Lane) and Jake (Cusack) are two recently divorced individuals still hurting from the respective experiences but ready to move on with their lives, looking for more than just a one night stand. She’s a preschool teacher and he’s a boat builder. Sarah’s sister, Carol (Perkins), places her profile on an online dating service that yields no success (one guy is looking for someone within the 18-25 range, one cries during the appetizer and another is into handcuffs and arm wrestling).

Jake’s best friend (Shenkman) surfs the site and prints out Sarah’s profile for him. They meet at a dog park and seem to get along alright but the sparks hardly fly between them. Bob (Mulroney), the father of one of her students catches her eye. He’s funny and good-looking and they seem like a much better match. Jake and Sarah try again and again but each time the date ends on an anti-climatic note. However, she feels a conflict of interest with Bob. Which one will she choose?

John Cusack and Diane Lane are appealing romantic leads. He’s a thinking person’s leading man, smart and witty while she is intelligent and beautiful. It would seem that they would make an engaging couple but they are thwarted by bland dialogue that lacks any kind of flare – it is merely functional (as the pedestrian direction). The characters tend to be on the generic side which is too bad because the cast is good, they just don’t have much to work with. As a result we fail to care about what happens to them because the film fails to get us emotionally invested in their dilemmas.

Must Love Dogs has admirable aspirations – to show that romance isn’t dead after you’re 40 and try to tackle some poignant issues concerning love, relationships and how hard it is to find that special someone no matter how old you are. Sex and the City was much more successful at this and instead Must Love Dogs is content to unsuccessfully ape better romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally (1989), The Truth About Cats and Dogs (1996) and Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and does so as if the filmmakers were going through a checklist of elements from all of these movies. This makes for a forced feel to everything when it should be flowing naturally resulting in a missed opportunity.

Special Features:

There are additional scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Gary David Goldberg. Scrubs’ Sam Lloyd was one of the film’s testimonials that were cut. Some of this footage Goldberg liked enough to put in the trailer. However, he keeps mentioning how this footage should be in the movie begging the obvious question, why wasn’t it?

“Pass the Beef Gag Reel” is a brief (under one minute) blooper reel from one scene.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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