I love me some John Cusack. I don't think there's a romantic comedy out there that stars Cusack that I don't like (who didn't LOVE "The Sure Thing"? "Say Anything"? "Serendipity"?). His dramas are hit or miss and I like him in a good action flick, but I love him in a romantic comedy. He takes a swing at another one with Diane Lane in Warner Bros. release, "Must Love Dogs" (IMDb listing).
Jake (Cusack) is a 40-something, recently divorced boat-builder surrounded by one horny but meaningful friend. Sarah (Lane) is a 40-something, recently divorced pre-school teacher surrounded by a meaningful but meddlesome Irish family.
When Sarah's sisters sign her up for an Internet dating service, Sarah is at first appalled, but then slightly intrigued. After a series of dead-end dates, Sarah meets Jake (who's friend lurked the Internet in search of a date for him) on a blind date at the dog park. They get off to an awkward start, but there's something there. Meanwhile, Sarah meets the recently separated father (Mulroney) of one of her students, a man perfect in every way -- or is he?
Though the film takes place in and around Los Angeles, the feel is definitely more Midwestern, almost Chicagoan. How many people actually wear thick Irish cable knit sweaters in southern California anyway?
Based on the book of the same name by Claire Cook, the film has been updated from the personal ads in the newspaper to the web of Internet dating sites. The story is your typical run-of-the-mill rom-com, but with a lot of laughs along the way. There's even a sing-along scene (a la the "Say A Little Prayer" lobster restaurant scene in "My Best Friend's Wedding," also starring Mulroney) and a bad date montage. The ending fizzles and is anticlimactic, but you won't really care because you'll have a good time in the movie with Sarah's meddlesome family, the gorgeous dogs, and the ubiquitous gay friend/co-worker/roommate and his hot significant other that seems to show up in every romantic comedy (and the only seemingly strong and healthy relationship in the whole bunch).
I thought at first that "Must Love Dogs" should be categorized under "chick-flick," but it's more like a date movie for guys and gals or guys and guys or gal and gals ...
Filmfodder Grade: B