MUST LOVE DOGS
Sarah Nolan (Diane Lane) is a divorced thirty-something kindergarten teacher. Her whole family, including sisters Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) and Christine (Ali Hillis) are keen to get her dating again and Carol puts Sarah's profile on perfectmatch.com. The copy is fabricated and gimmicky and the last line of the ad reads 'Must Love Dogs.' Sarah gets plenty of responses and among the unlikely suitors, meets newly divorced boat builder Jake (Cusack). Meantime, Bob (Dermot Mulroney), the recently separated father of one of her young students, begins to show an interest in her.
Review by Louise Keller:
Warm and funny, Must Love Dogs is a playful romantic comedy with enticing performances from Diane Lane and John Cusack, as would-be lovers who meet through an internet dating site. Like a good song that makes you think it sounds familiar, when it is actually brand new, this girl meets boy story is simply crammed with appealing elements. The characters are a mix of real life and sit-com and director Gary David Goldberg blends them all effortlessly in this adaptation of Claire Cook's novel, weaving contrivances into complex tapestries.
The plot is simple enough. And Lane charms us totally as Sarah, a divorced kindie teacher still reeling from the fact her husband stopped loving her and married someone else. Cusack's Jake is a highly complex romantic, preferring to watch reruns of Dr Zhivago than date the young buxom blondes his friend is trying to set him up with. Together, there is magic, as their characters make us understand them and how they feel.
The story is grounded by Sarah's well-intentioned family, and it's Sarah's sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) who puts her photo and profile on perfectmatch.com. Everyone uses the word 'voluptuous' she tells Sarah, and adds 'must love dogs' almost as a reassuring postnote. It doesn't help, when Sarah discovers her first 'date' is in fact her widower father Bill (Christopher Plummer in splendid form), who plays the online dating game himself. The sideplot involving his romances with a bevy of dollies, including Stockard Channing's lively Dolly, who has her profile on 10 internet dating sites at once, is highly entertaining.
When Sarah meets Jake in the dogpark, they both arrive with borrowed dogs. Dog-lovers will instantly fall in love with Sister Theresa, an oversized silky black Newfoundland mutt with liquid eyes, who Sarah frequently babysits for her brother. As to be expected, Sarah and Jake's relationship doesn't run smoothly. Everything goes wrong - from the initial meeting to the anticlimactic scene when sparks fly, but neither has a condom.
Misunderstandings are rife when Sarah's other beau, father of one of her kindie-charges Bobby (Dermot Mulroney), appears at precisely the wrong moment. Even funnier is the scene when Jake goes on a date with Jordana Spiro's dumb-blonde Sherry, who thinks Dr Zhivago is about Russians 'freezing their ass off' and just doesn't 'get it'.
Must Love Dogs is an enticing romantic comedy of errors - for romantics and dog lovers.
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MUST LOVE DOGS (M)
CAST: Diane Lane, John Cusack, Stockard Channing, Dermot Mulroney, Elizabeth Perkins, Ali Hillis, Christopher Plummer
PRODUCER: Gary David Goldberg, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd
DIRECTOR: Gary David Goldberg
SCRIPT: Gary David Goldberg (novel by Claire Cook)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Bailey
EDITOR: Roger Bondelli, Eric A. Sears
MUSIC: Craig Armstrong
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Naomi Shohan
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 6, 2005