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Comedy Movies - Must Love Dogs

Must Love Dogs
Diane Lane, John Cusack.
Warner Brothers Pictures

Not to be cruel, but the title says it all. No that's not true, but it was so obvious.

Fans of any type of formulaic fiction know that they are seeing the same story over and over and over again. Like the Chinese art of cross talk the story is always the same; the talent and skill is in telling the story in an entertaining and fresh way. Successful romantic comedies deliver to the audience the expected in ways which surprise the audience. Must Love Dogs delivers the expected seemingly with the belief that a strong cast can carry a pedestrian script and flat direction.

Schoolmarm Sarah Hurlihy (Land) is divorced and in search of love, well kind of prodded there but not-not looking. With predictable reliability there is a small parade of unlikely and unsuitable suitors (including her father) prior to her inevitable meeting with Jake (Cusack) who inexplicably builds boats no one wants with money that is never explained. Suspension of disbelief is one thing but sometimes a little nod in the direction of reality doesn't hurt.

Sarah's involvement with one of her student's father innocuously named Bob (Dermot Mulroney) is trailed before us as the good choice, the obvious choice, the sensible choice - though he is married (separated is still married). Bob is stable and a good father. But Jack is an idealist who handcrafts boats and pines in front of his television watching Dr. Zhivago. Misunderstanding, false starts, miscommunication are all tools of any comedic movie and they are all put to use in Must Love Dogs. One cannot fault the tools for the work of the craftsman.

This is an innocuous movie on so many levels that it can't actually be panned. You should wait for the rental though it is a safe choice for a nice little film if you can't get into Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or War of the Worlds.

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