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Must Love Dogs (2005)
Must Love Dogs is a 2005 romantic comedy film based on the book written by Claire Cook. It is the third film directed and written by Gary David Goldberg. The film, starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, was produced on a budget of $30 million. The film focuses on a woman's struggle with divorce and meeting new people afterward. Production started on October 12, 2004 and the film was released on July 29, 2005. Critics opinions were mostly negative giving the general opinion that the actors were not to blame. Must Love Dogs took the fifth spot on its opening weekend and has grossed more than $58 million worldwide. The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 20, 2005. Sarah Nolan, a preschool teacher, is confronted by her family because she is 40 and divorced. Her family wants her to date more and shows her photos of men they want to set her up with. Sarah does not seem interested in pursuing any relationships. Jake Anderson also was recently divorced and is in a similar position; he meets with his lawyer, Charlie, who wants to set him up with Sherry. Jake is not interested and would rather focus on creating his handcrafted boats.
A recent trend finds older but still attractive actresses downheartedly treading water in the dating pool for the benefit of a far-fetched plot. Heather Locklear played a flighty single mom unlucky in love for Hilary Duff's The Perfect Man. Now Oscar-nominee Diane Lane is taking her turn in the barrel with improved results.
Eight months after her bitter divorce, Sarah (Lane) sifts through her large Irish family's misguided matchmaking attempts and wonders aloud if she'll ever find love again. With unsolicited assistance from her older sister, Carol (Elizabeth Perkins), Sarah posts a profile to an Internet dating website and enters a steady stream of social disasters. Two suitors gradually rise to the surface: smarmy but outwardly nice Bob (played by smarmy Dermot Mulroney), and intense but ultimately decent Jake (John Cusack).
Writer/director Gary David Goldberg, a sitcom scribe with M*A*S*H and The Bob Newhart Show on his resume, mines a Claire Cook novel for small, steady, and consistent laughs. His breezy and light charmer is sentimental and blessed with a heart. Dogs also makes some soft comments on cyber dating through Stockard Channing. Initially interested in Sarah's father (the smooth Christopher Plummer), she gets caught in a pinch after fudging the facts on her own dating profile.
Since they grace the poster, we know Lane and Cusack are meant to mate, though the two share a minimal chemistry that's slow to form. We almost have more fun when the main couple is apart and interacting with their supporting players. Cusack's on cruise control, not sinking to sleepwalking level but hitting his marks with the casual stride of someone who's explored this territory before. His shuffle stands out in contrast to the nimble juggling act managed by Lane.
Goldberg throws in filler for his final frames to keep his leads apart longer and prolong the inevitable. Mulroney returns, Sarah endures a few more bad blind dates, and we patiently wait. Even vehicles on autopilot eventually reach their destinations, though, and Dogs proves to be an easy ride.
DVD extras are limited to a blooper reel and a few deleted scenes.
Must not love dogs that much!