Must Love Dogs

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      I don't know why the reviewers have been so hard on Must Love Dogs. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 39%. Maybe the reviewers, who are still mostly male, are just anti-chick-flick. They obviously prefer Stupid-Boy movies like Wedding Crashers. Since I haven't seen Wedding Crashers, I can't compare it to Must Love Dogs. But I am Mr. Chick-Flick, so you know where my vote goes. Must Love Dogs is about two recently divorced people (John Cusack and Diane Lane). They are both too depressed to face a return to the dating game so their friends and families force them into internet dating. Lane's father (Christopher Plummer) and sister (Elizabeth Perkins) are the ones pushing her, while Cusack's best friend (Ben Shenkman) is pushing him. Plummer is a recent widower and is dating three women simultaneously, including an old hippie (Stockard Channing). Lane is a pre-school teacher and she has been flirting with one of the parents (Dermot Mulroney). Cusack builds wooden boats that no one will buy and watches Dr. Zhivago over and over again rather than date anyone. Neither Cusack nor Lane owns a dog.

      Must Love Dogs doesn't break any new ground but it's an enjoyable little movie with a nice cast. The writer/director Michael David Goldberg is a well known TV writer for shows such as M.A.S.H., Lou Grant, Family Ties, and Spin City. But he has only directed one other movie. The writing is good but there are some sitcom-esque things such as Lane's extended family. Luckily, Must Love Dogs has a very strong cast which can easily rise above the material. John Cusack is the actor who I would most want to play me in a movie and Diane Lane is right up there for who I'd like to be dating on the screen. So they are pretty much an ideal couple as far as I'm concerned. And they portray a nice edgy desperateness in their attempts to connect. Elizabeth Perkins, who plays Lane's sister, is one of my favorites. She usually gets stuck with parts like this but she is always great. Check out Indian Summer which stars Perkins as well as Lane. Also very entertaining in this movie is that old pro Christopher Plummer who has starred in everything from The Sound of Music to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In Must Love Dogs, he gets to ham it up as Lane's father. Ben Shenkman is very good as Cusack's best friend, but he could do this part in his sleep. See Angels in America to see what he can really do.

      There's nothing special about the Must Love Dogs but the movie moves right along and doesn't drag in the middle. And it's very romantic. There's some similarity to You've Got Mail which was made in the pre-internet-dating era. Must Love Dogs isn't quite as good, mainly because Nora Ephron can write chick-flick like no one else, but it has some of the same feel to it. I think that Must Love Dogs does a good job of conveying some of internet dating's surreal yet desperate atmosphere and I should know. So, forget the other reviews, when date night rolls around, this is a good bet.