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IN SHORT: To love this film? Oh boy you'd have to. [Rated PG-13 for sexual content.]
For those still in film school -- and as much as we revile some of its programming, there is some value to those places -- there is probably a historical paper to be written about cinematic evaluations of the dating process. Fix-ups. Blind dates. Personal ads in the classifieds of the local paper and now, in keeping with advances in high technology, personal ads slash blind-date fix ups via the Internet. This years's model is called Must Love Dogs and is staffed by a compliment of thirtysomething (and plus) actors, all of whom deserve career props. That's what makes gutting this turkey so painful. We like the actors and we respect the teevee career of director Gary David Goldberg but Must Love Dogs is an incredibly uninteresting dating slash love story, even for a critic who is of the proper age (and one who has been through all the various personals schemes).
Must Love Dogs is more an ad for an (apparently real) Internet dating service whose name we will reveal when they pay for that privilege -- no freebie advertising here as the internet is a dog eat door world -- than a bright and bubbly hodgepodge of Tales from Blind Date Hell. Those of the right amount of dating experience know how much fun those can be. The dating gags in this film is comprised of the experiences of its creators, and those are the only bits of the flick worth watching. We'll spill our best random dating story later. No peeking.
It's been eight months since the thirtysomething Sarah Nolan (Diane Lane) was dumped by a husband who ran off and impregnated a twentysomething. Still not up to battling it out with the newer models on the local dating scene. Sarah is a more than happy to take care of the wee kidlets in the pre-school classes she supervises and that's that. While teacher catches the eye of the self-admitted "incorrigible" Bob Connor (Dermot Mulroney), father of one of the kidlets in her charge, Sarah has professional standards that prohibit her accepting his passes.
Sisters Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) and Christine (Ali Hillis) step into the gap. They take an old photo and, when they post a personal ad on the afore-ignored internet dating service, Must Love Dogs delivers the funniest joke in the movie. We won't spill it although the trailer and ads do (and what does that say about studio confidence in the project?) Other dates from hell that follow in Must Love Dogs are amusing enough, though we can't see how they'd be of interest to anyone who hasn't been through the wringer at least once. One of those dates is with Jake Anderson (John Cusack), so lovelorn that he spends his free time mooning over a tape of Dr. Zhivago. Jake spends most of the movie embarking on a new career building teakwood racing sculls. Don't ask us what he did to afford the materials. If it's in the script, we missed it.
That relationship-to-perhaps-be is counter pointed by the one between Sarah's widowed father Bill (Christopher Plummer) and a horde of younger women -- he's 71, almost anyone would be younger -- chief of which is Dolly (Stockard Channing). Dolly, thanks to a wee bit of mis-typing has also won the heart of one "Jeremy," and we're going to show more respect for this film than we usually would and not spill the wonderful joke that plays out because of it.
Thanks to the bloodties, both stories get shmushed together in the Third Act, which we don't reveal. For those looking for a reason, Sarah's dates from hell are the only interesting parts of the which makes the rating on Must Love Dogs pretty simple for us. For your reading enjoyment, we'll continue with one of our best pickups in two sentences.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Must Love Dogs, he would have paid . . .
Because we promised, here's our story: Ten years (and thirty pounds) ago we attended the American Spirit Awards in Los Angeles. During the pre-festivities shmoozing, the hair on the back of our neck stood up -- a sure sign of being looked at. We were indeed being checked out, by an A-list film star. We met her gaze. She blushed and turned her head away. We thought to our self "Well, that's interesting" -- because the rumor mill had stamped the star full force with the label "lesbian." As we kept looking, the star looked back. This time, we turned our head. Then we thought, "This is stupid," walked over and got ten quality minutes with the star. Now we're lucky to share twenty with other writers at junkets for her movies. More we won't say. A true story and as copyrighted as everything else on this site.
Guess all you want. We're not telling.
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