Saturday, September 3, 2005

Must Love Dogs

(I saw this film several weeks ago, so this is a little late and brief)


Sarah (Diane Lane), a teacher,  is recently divorced young forty-something whose family, headed by patriarch Bill (Christopher Plummer), is determined to get her back in the dating game. Her sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) lists her on an internet dating service. Meanwhile, Bill is stringing two ladies along. One of them is Dolly (Stockard Channing) who is eccentric and kind.


Sarah meets Jake (John Cusack) online and they date, but not after Sarah makes the mistake of answering her own father’s online ad. (Ha ha).


Sarah and Jake are well suited to one another but back away. Then Sarah meets Bob, (Dermot Mulroney) the father of one of her elementary students and thinks this might be the one.


And so an and so forth, ho and hum. I cannot remember who has the dogs, Sarah, Jake or Bob, so as you can see this is a forgettable film on so many levels. It is based on a novel by Claire Cooke. I thought that maybe its A-list cast of actors might have believed that making this film would be fun. Maybe it was, but I thought the script not up to their talents.


The one shining star was Stockard Channing who played her eclectic and eccentric trailer-park role with élan.


The writing in Must Love Dogs was poor and lazy I thought because it just tacked on clichéd Catholic school references instead of actually integrating what being Catholic and married might have meant to the characters with a little depth. (Some depth in a comedy enriches it I think). The only one who actually made being Catholic credible was Bill when he talked about what being married to his first wife and the mother of his children (now deceased) truly meant.  Then he shows himself to be as superficial as everyone else.


You know, for a film to be credible about its characters being Catholic it has to come from the "inside" of the writer/filmmaker. It always rings a false note when a writer or filmmaker tries to be 'cute" about being Catholic. The characters are superficial because they never grasp the difference that being Catholic means. Of course, we never find out the issues of Sarah's marriage but no matter, it sure is easy for her to hop in the sack with someone else. Sure, Catholics may engage in this kind of behavior, but I don't think they do so without a twinge. Sarah never really thinks twice about what her faith, and what the nuns taught her really means.


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