Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Must Love Dogs

Lowdown: A divorcee in her early forties struggles to find a mate.
If asked to point out what the worst thing about American cinema is, commercialism would be the number one culprit. On its own, commercialism may not be too bad; things go bad when commercialism rules over art. This task may be achieved through various techniques, but the one dominant in 2005’s Must Love Dogs is the “checklist” way. I imagine the film’s production went along the following lines: some executive came up with the idea of producing a romantic comedy to bolster the studio’s bottom line; the idea was then forwarded to the marketing department, where a checklist of rom-com must have items was quickly assembled; and then, as an afterthought, a director was hired with very specific instructions to follow the checklist as if it was the word of god. Indeed, in many a corporate, the people at marketing are self appointed gods, but I’ll quit this line of thought to focus on Must Love Dogs.
Diane Lane stars as a forty plus not much more recent divorcee. A preschool teacher, she’s good at the office and she’s doing well financially (well enough to drive a flashy convertible), but her life is in shambles: she’s unable to find herself since the divorce. To the aid come her sisters, with one of them posting an ad for her on an internet dating website. In typical fashion, the ad assumes a significant poetic license in its product description, including a “must love dogs” angle. After a few unsuccessful first dates (that go exactly the way a predictable comedy would take them), Lane bumps into John Cusack.
Cusack shares a similar background to Lane's, and just like Lane his life is stuck and in need of salvation. In particular, no one appreciates his classically designed hand made racing boats. But will the two find one another, especially when Lane is unable to decide whether to focus on Cusack or Dermot Mulroney, the divorced father of one her school children? Have no worries, because Must Love Dogs is so predictable, so soapy, so cliché, that you can always tell exactly what will happen next.
You would think Must Love Dogs is annoying enough with its predictability and it checking every item on the above mentioned checklist, but there’s more. In particular, there’s the story not having absolutely anything special about it; this one is as corny and unoriginal as a rom-com can get.
Worst scene:
Guess who is Lane first ever internet blind date? Her father!
Now, what are the chances of that happening? In a small middle of nowhere town with a population of a hundred, most of which are dogs, a father-daughter blind date may take place; but not in the city/town where Must Love Dogs takes place.
This is just one of several scenes where the extremely unlikely takes place and we’re supposed to accept it. Me, I was mourning the waste of Christopher Plummer’s (the father) talents on such a poor production.
Overall: Must Love Dogs is so unoriginal it’s plain boring. 1.5 out of 5 stars; films like that should never be made, not even for a relaxing evening by the fire.


Wicked Little Critta said...

Sounds as terrible as I thought.
Why a 1.5? I thought you might have rated it lower...

Moshe Reuveni said...

If you're after a philosophical discussion on "what constitutes a 1.5 star film", let me know; that would be quite a heavy exercise that would require more time than I have available this very moment.
As for 1.5 stars for Must Love Dogs, I tend to reserve the scores of 1 and below to films where I feel the entire structure is compromised and the film lacks integrity. Must Love Dogs is not such a case: It is a coherent film with proper structure, albeit a very uninspiring one. It even has some mildly amusing moments, too, but it's taken down to the depths of the 1.5 stars realm by its assumptions that a woman is no good without her man and all this bullshit about true love just waiting out there to be found (aka "the cliche factor" and the "entrenching negative notions in the audience factor").