August 5 - 11, 2005 • Vol. 26 - No. 31

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Must Love Dogs—and this Movie
 by The Maven and The Blonde
Film Columnists

The romantic comedy Must Love Dogs was directed by Gary David Goldberg, who brought us the television sitcoms “Family Ties” and “Spin City.” His forays into the cinema include directing Dad and the 1995 film Bye Bye Love. He adapted the screenplay for Must Love Dogs from the novel of the same name, written by Claire Cook.
The movie introduces us to the whole Nolan family during an “intervention” for recently divorced Sarah. Her sibs and father feel it's time for her to start dating again. After all, it has been eight months (that seems pretty normal to us)! Diane Lane (Under the Tuscan Sun and Unfaithful) portrays Sarah, who teaches preschool and is not too excited about entering the dating pool again (Well, who is)! Sarah's sister, Carol (sweet but pushy) is played by the adorable Elizabeth Perkins (Moonlight and Valentino and Cats and Dogs). She decides to force Sarah's hand by posting a profile on an online dating service with the enticing message stating, “Voluptuous, sensuous, alluring and fun DWF seeking date with man who MUST LOVE DOGS.” To make matters worse, Carol uses Sarah's high-school graduation photo. Sarah receives many replies, and the first she responds to leads to one of the most touching moments of the movie. She then embarks on a series of unsuccessful and some downright pathetic first dates. (Join the club)! Meanwhile, at the preschool she works for, Sarah encounters the very sexy and recently available father of one of her students. Bob, played by hunky Dermot Mulroney (The Wedding Date and About Schmidt) appears to be unthreatening, suave and too good to be true. Sarah resists getting involved with a student’s father, as she thinks that may be unethical. So, it's back to Internet dating! Enter Jake Anderson, portrayed by John Cusack (Identity and Runaway Jury and Joan Cusack's brother) is a very intense, softhearted guy whose favorite movie is Dr. Zhivago. (Now how bad could that be). During their first meeting, he manages to inadvertently insult Sarah several times, but she is still a little intrigued by him and later agrees to a second date.
Amidst all this dating, Sarah is still dealing with pressure from her family to find Mr. Right. Even her father Bill, played by Christopher Plummer (Alexander and National Treasure), is involved with online dating. He has met Dolly, the brassy New-Age sixty-year-old, played by Stockard Channing (Where the Heart Is and Life or Something Like It). Even Dolly tries to assist Sarah in the dating game.
Best of all is the dog, Mother Teresa, who is a Newfoundland who’s actually afraid of the water. For those of you not familiar with this breed, they are water rescue dogs! Bob, the sexy hunk, is not yet out of the picture, leading to choices Sarah is not ready to make. Suddenly, dating is much more complicated at thirty-five than it was at twenty! Will Sarah choose correctly? Can her family stay out of her love life? Most of all… will Mother Theresa ever learn to swim and conquer her fear of the water? Go have some fun and find out these answers for yourself!

The Blonde: I don't care what all the other critics are saying about this film. I cannot tell you HOW MUCH I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Must Love Dogs! This film was like The Big Chill meets You've Got Mail meets Serendipity meets Cheaper by the Dozen. It is funny, intelligent, realistic, believable, fresh, honest and FILLED with laughs. It is everything you would expect from a Gary David Goldberg film, and then some! The brilliantly witty one-liners are poetic and PROFOUND!  For you single ladies out there, the dating scene segments with the loser guys were dead on and very humorous. For any of you who are going through a bad time in your life, take a few hours off and go see this terrific “FEEL GOOD” movie. For me, this is definitely a “go see twice film,” and I will do just that.

The Maven: It certainly was a welcome breast of fresh air…

The Blonde: I TOTALLY AGREE, but whose breasts are we talking about?

The Maven: I SAID BREATH, NOT BREASTS (that you typed wrong). YOU BLONDE! As I was saying, “breath” of fresh air from superheroes, aliens and horror films. This was a thoroughly conventional romantic comedy. The dialogue was smart and delivered well especially from John Cusack. However, I wasn't quite as enthralled as the Blonde. I felt there should have been more romance between Sarah and Jake. The chemistry was there but the writing wasn't. Frankly, movies like Upside of Anger and Something's Gotta Give dealt with adults better.

The Blonde: Oh, back off! Okay, it was a little cheesy and it didn't portray the romance of Dr. Zhivago. but…it was fun and funny and can't a movie be considered great just on the merit of the moviegoer laughing for two hours? Moving along, I just loved the perfect casting in this film. Most of the actors are among my very favorites…Each of them enhanced the already lovable characters in which they portrayed. You could not only identify with the characters, but their dilemmas as well. The big, close-knit family, each with their own problems all told in a comedic way, was charming. I loved how the family stood by Sarah, were worried, and tried to help her find happiness. Mav, don't you just love the adorably delicious Diane Lane. There is just something about her that is so darn likeable and appealing. She's not a beautiful girl, yet she radiates the girl next-door qualities.

The Maven: I think Diane is lovely, sexy and wholesome, and it's much better to have her package as a whole than to be an exquisite beauty. Looks vanish with age and take so much maintenance to keep. It's too much responsibility to be a raving beauty.

The Blonde: AND BOY, don't I KNOW THAT FIRST HAND! It's hard to be me!

The Maven: Just YOUR ego ALONE would be hard to maintain.

The Blonde: What does that mean?

The Maven: You just explained it! Blonde? Hello? Blonde…

The Blonde: ………………
The Maven: BLONDE, whatever. Did you know that originally the role of Carol belonged to Kyra Sedgwick, but because of scheduling conflicts, Elizabeth Perkins got it! Which is probably why the chemistry between the sisters was so good, as they are real-life best friends.
The Blonde: ……………………

The Maven: BLONDE?  BLONDE? Ok, your EGO is fine.

The Blonde:  I'm back. I just needed to get a manicure, pedicure, facial and haircut. What were you saying?

The Maven: Nothing, just talking about best friends!    
The Blonde: Awww, I KNOW WE ARE! Mav, didn't you just love the midnight manicure scene? What a great idea that would be. Do they have one in Boca? It would save so much time during the day. Now, where were we? Something about how pretty I am? But enough about me! I prefer to see Dermot playing the good guy like in My Best Friend’s Wedding. He is adorable and a fine actor. Ya know, Stockard always plays the gal you feel sorry for. Even in The First Wives Club, her character committed suicide! I wonder if her real life is the same? Her life is such a mystery. I must add that I liked Christopher in this film. He was a good daddy. I melted when he told his daughter, “Now don't you put the sunshine to shame!” How sweet is that? I don't know about you, but every time I see Christopher Plummer I want to just stand up and sing “Doe a Deer” or “Edelweiss”! As for Elizabeth Perkins, I fell in love with her ever since seeing her in “American Dreams”!

Story continued on bottom

The Maven: UMM… Blonde, that would be JoBeth Williams.

The Blonde: She wasn't in Must Love Dogs? It must be hard being you!

The Maven: Have you had your Starbucks today?

The Blonde: No, why?   

The Maven: GOOD, then I will make that your excuse! I love Chris Plummer too! He looked wonderful. It's obvious he had some work done. Don't you find it refreshing when a man takes care of himself?

The Blonde: I have never stayed with one long enough to experience it! I did however think it was refreshing and cute how the sisters advised Sarah to wear a “boob shirt” on her date. I use that expression, too.

The Maven: Really, I have NEVER yet seen you wear one! Get yourself a Grande, Triple, Espresso shot today! I THINK YOU NEED IT!                                            

The Blonde: Cool, let's finish the review first. And… when you take me on a date, I'll wear a “boob shirt.”


The Blonde: Without giving too much away, my favorite scene was the emergency driving spree for a safe sex protection source.

The Maven: We're allowed to say condom.

The Blonde: NO, we can't say CONDOM! AND I won't say CONDOM! Anyway, it was my favorite scene. You married people don't understand that sort of desperation!

The Maven: Thank God! How about that, Senator Bill Frist?

The Blonde: Why? Does he understand that sort of desperate safe-sex protection, like condoms?

The Maven: No, he's the Republican who just came out supporting government funding for stem cell research.

The Blonde: That's GREAT and I hope HE supports safe-sex too! Do you have any REAL gossip for us?

The Maven: Well, I have heard that…

The Blonde: YES…DO TELL!!!!! GO ON!

The Maven: Renée Zellweger and Kenny Chesney are not as “hot” as they were. That marriage may be going the way Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett's marriage went.

The Blonde: WHERE DID IT GO? Didn't Julia just have beautiful twins?

The Maven: STARBUCKS, WE'RE COMIN! I do recommend this film. However, it is a chick flick. The few men who might enjoy this might possibly be recently divorced. While not a totally original story idea, I did think the topic of adult dating after divorce was very on target. The cast was actually better than the film. I rate this movie a B- for better than average.

The Blonde: I love classic romantic comedies and Must Love Dogs is up there among my favorites. This VERY endearing, funny movie is a MUST SEE for any adult audience. With all the so-so comedies out there, this was such a joy to watch. You will have fun and a delightful movie going experience. I rate Must Love Dogs a B+!  For your snacks, go ahead and splurge. Enjoy some Hershey’s Kisses, Almond Joy and a large frosty drink. Have a great time!

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