Name: Must Love Dogs (2005)
IMDb: link to Must Love Dogs page
Genres: Comedy, Romance. Country of origin: USA.
Cast: Diane Lane as Sarah Nolan, John Cusack as Jake, Elizabeth Perkins as Carol, Christopher Plummer as Bill Nolan, Dermot Mulroney as Bob, Stockard Channing as Dolly, Ali Hillis as Christine, Ben Shenkman as Charlie.
Directed by: Gary David Goldberg. Written by: Claire Cook (novel), Gary David Goldberg (screenplay).
|image courtesy of TMDb|
The initial tableaux:
Sarah Nolan is recently divorced, and she gets advice and possible setups from sisters Carol and Christine, her brother, and her father Bill. The efforts to get her back into the dating game seem to be going along swimmingly, but her first blind date turns out to be her father. Ouch. She and her sisters regroup, and the search starts in earnest.
Jake is also recently divorced. He and his lawyer Charlie celebrate the papers being signed, but note sadly that Jake decided not to participate in his own defense. Divorce is war, and he lost on all fronts. Jake builds wooden boats by hand, and is not selling all that many of them. Charlie urges Jake to get back into the dating game, but Jake is slow to accept the idea.
Delineation of conflicts:
Sarah and Jake meet at a dog park, both with borrowed dogs. They soon discover that both of them were faking it, and the first round looks like a bust.
Bob's child attends where Sarah teaches. They hit is off fairly well at first, but Bob has a bit of a wandering eye. Will this kill it for Sarah and Bob? After all, they are just testing the field.
Jake and Sarah get together again, with better rapport, but they split again.
To make things more fun, father Bill Nolan starts a relationship with the exciting character Dolly, which upsets the rest of the family for a time. Bill and his wife were together for 45 years before her death, after all.
Resolution: Do we get a Hollywood ending, or will this be just another feel bad comedy? It could go either way.
One line summary: Pleasant feel-good romantic comedy.
Cinematography: 9/10 Nicely shot. Ordinary people are doing ordinary things in ordinary places. The reality principle is in place (no supernatural, no SciFi, no aliens, no CGI). It's spring or early summer, the world is beautiful, and no one is sick or impoverished or threatened. The visuals capture all of this smoothly.
Sound: 8/10 I could hear the actors clearly. Background music was a mild plus.
Acting: 8/10 Christopher Plummer, John Cusack, Stockard Channing, and Diane Lane gave fine performances. None of other actors were bad.
Screenplay: 7/10 Jake and Sarah start out badly, but do better the second time around, though not well enough. Bob and Sarah start out with a nice warmth, but then things go south. I liked those cliched but well done threads. I also liked the thread featuring Dolly and her interactions with Bill and his daughters. The ending was the biggest cliche of all, and was the only iffy part of the film for me. I liked the result, but the awkwardness level was mighty high for a few minutes.
Final rating: 8/10