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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.43%
Worth A Look: 21.43%
Average: 1.43%
Pretty Bad: 35.71%
Total Crap40%

8 reviews, 22 user ratings

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Must Love Dogs
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jason Whyte

"I think tonight is a Lloyd Dobler night."
2 stars

Must Love Dogs wants to be likeable, well-written and confident romantic comedy with some strong performances, but the film pushes too hard to make us laugh and doesnít try hard enough to make us care about the lead characters who are just too darn good-looking and perfect to lead a story such as this. I guess your enjoyment of the movie will depend on whether or not you can buy Diane Lane and John Cusack as two recently divorced adults who are just entering the dating scene again.

Me? I didnít, because the insanely gorgeous Diane Lane has a face and smile that is made for the camera, and Mr. Lloyd Dobler himself is too forward, to confident to play a sad-sack. Lane, especially, seems caught in the Sandra Bullock Syndrome where the character is so utterly gorgeous, has a nice job but stays at home on a Friday night eating Campbellís Soup For One.

Her character, Sarah (the beginning of many standard character names), is a kindergarten teacher whose recent divorce has left her somewhat in a bitter mood. Her extended family, who seem to always be around her oversized house, decide to try to help her out. Sarahís sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) enlists Sarahís personal ad on to find aÖwell, a perfect match. (Carol uses Sarahís college graduation photo instead of her early 40ís picture. Ho-hum.) And yes, this site actually exists, and Iím wondering how much more traffic the site will get because of this movie.

Meanwhile, we are introduced to Jake (Cusack) who builds old wooden boats for a living and has also went through a rather pricey divorce, according to his attorney and best friend Charlie (Ben Shenkman). Charlie wants Jake to get back out there and does so by responding to Sarahís own personal ad for him. (Charlie himself is single and on the prowl and, oddly enough, doesnít respond to Sarahís personal.) Both Jake and Sarah finally do meet with their dogs (hence the title) and Sarah is initially curious with Jakeís outgoing personality.

Thereís an entirely unfunny sequence early in the film where Sarah starts to answer a few of the ads, and in one scene accidentally responds to her father Billís (Christopher Plummer) ad. Bill himself is a widower and a womanizer, but seems to have no problem picking up ladies on the whim, so why even bother with the personals? Later on, Sarah makes friendly with Bob (Dermot Mulroney) who is the father of one of her students and canít decide if Bob or Jake is the right choice for her. I mean, when one has a son whose quoting of mutual funds and stocks appears like it comes out of Kids Say The Darndest Things, and the other builds wooden boats for a living, how could anyone choose?

The director is Gary David Goldberg, whose last film was the not-so-good Dad in 1991 which starred the late Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson. Iím not sure why it took him 14 years to make another movie, and THIS one for that matter. (Were the kings of bland comedies, Donald Petrie and Howard Deutch, busy this year or something?) He does get some natural performances out of the leads and both Lane and Cusack are easily watchable, especially in a fun sequence where they drive all over Los Angeles in search of a drug store selling condoms. Even one store is sold out. (ďEverybody in the city is having sex right now,Ē Jake jokes.)

The movie falters towards the end, with Lane getting nervous about new commitment, running away from everybody and then finally realizing the right person for her. Without giving too much away, the ending is a mess, with the climax resolved over two scenes after the main characters have been apart for so long. Why canít a romantic comedy just show these people together for the running time? Back in April, the wonderful comedy Fever Pitch was released and the film showed the leads (played by Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore) from beginning to end. Here, Lane and Cusack are apart for the majority of the running time, with a big comedic sequence to bring them back and a final joke to release everybody into the lobby. If it worked for Drew and Jimmy, it can work for Diane and John.

Note: Why does everyone in this movie have standard screenplay names like Sarah, John, Bill, Bob, Charlie and Carol? Surely thereís an Angus, a Dimitri or a Felicia in the background just waiting to get out.

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originally posted: 08/01/05 17:25:08
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User Comments

12/01/06 SabresFanatic Disappointed. Needed more of Cusack and Plummer 3 stars
7/10/06 Marty i liked it and i don't know why. diane lane's hot maybe? 4 stars
5/08/06 Diane Perkins boring, love diane and john but neither very good in this movie 2 stars
5/03/06 Ashley Hinz I won't watch this again. What a waste of Plummer and Cusack. 2 stars
1/29/06 Lily It's just one big "" commercial. 2 stars
12/26/05 zhivago john cusack is incapable of making a bad movie 5 stars
11/11/05 Jinx This movie stinks. Too much sex and innuendo. 1 stars
10/29/05 Rover Must hate contemporary "romantic" "comedies"! 1 stars
10/29/05 Mrs. Casey Donovan Diane Lane is an obnoxious skank. I'd like to stuff scorpions up her rectum. 1 stars
10/29/05 Allison Lafferty Anyone else notice "heroine" is an unlikeble self-centered brat? 1 stars
10/29/05 Jenny Tullwartz If it's really yourself you're mad at, break your own damn glasses, for pete's sake! 1 stars
10/15/05 Aaron Terrible. 1 stars
10/12/05 eddiejohns You must really love dogs to love this movie. It bites! 2 stars
10/12/05 Josh Swanson Total garbage. Not worth my time or in for a free wasted money! 1 stars
10/07/05 Don Your review is so spot on its funny, but I still loved the movie; Im in love with DL 4 stars
10/06/05 Susan I knew it! yucky! 1 stars
9/29/05 Sarah was ere my name is sarah darymple i loooveee emaweise 1 stars
9/21/05 karen romantic 4 stars
8/09/05 jada i'm just embarrassed for John Cusack, cheesy & hit every awful cliche, hated it 1 stars
8/05/05 ron abrams yawn. what a waste. 2 stars
7/31/05 Bonnie Roberts I wouldn't see it twice 2 stars
7/30/05 Naka Ungh. No. 2 stars
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  29-Jul-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005



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