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Must Love Dogs
Posted to Movies at 03:19 PM on Jan 31, 2006

2005. Warner Brothers Pictures. Directed by Gary David Goldberg. Starring Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins and Durmot Mulroney

Imagine the sequel to the lame-o rom-com Under the Tuscan Sun. Got it? Good. Now put Lloyd Dobler in it, only fifteen years older, hard-bitten, and creepy. Put in some squirm-worthy old-people-having-sex jokes, and you've got...well, you've got a massive pile of crap, but you also have Must Love Dogs.

Diane Lane is so pretty. She's so pretty. and so expressive. She's a great crier. She's so much better than a half-ass romantic comedy, but she keeps appearing in them. In this corny disaster, she plays Sarah, a sad, dateless divorcee (as if!) whose clueless sister (Perkins) takes out an internet personal ad in Sarah's name. She meets recently-divorced boat builder Jake, who is obviously not ready to date yet but is talked into it by his annoying lawyer.

To complicate matters, she's sort of seeing the slimy dad of one of her preschool students. It's supposed to be a complete shock to the audience when he turns out to be a scumbag, but it's not. You see it coming a mile away.

On one side of the coin, you have the duplicitous creepazoid, but on the other, you have Jake, who, despite looking a lot like John Cusack, is so desperate and needy that he's completely unsympathetic. I felt I was supposed to feel his pain, but I didn't. During his first encounter with Sarah, he's so vicious. He doesn't mean to be; he's trying to be himself, but he's bitter and angry and the negativity just flows out of his mouth.

That's my biggest complaint with this movie: it's just so mean-spirited. From Sarah's widowed dad who keeps three women like Playmates to the loser potential dates whose messages Sarah reviews, nearly everybody in this movie is the horrible kind of person who never tips and talks on his cell while a cashier at a store tries to help him. The predictable ending is unsatisfying because it feels kind of hopeless. Sarah's, ultimately, stuck with somebody who's not good enough for her because her stupid family won't stay out of her business.


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