Must Love Dogs (3/10)
by Tony Medley
Maybe beauty has no
relationship with perspicacity. How else explain Diane Lane agreeing to do
this movie. Didn’t she read the script? For that matter, didn’t
Christopher Plummer and John Cusack read the script? Because if they had,
they would have discovered that the first 75 minutes are sophomoric,
foolish, unrealistic, unfunny, and contrived, if not puerile, ignorant,
For my money Lane is the most
beautiful film actress since Gene Tierney. I thought, how bad could it be
to sit at look at Lane for almost two hours? Well, with this script, it
wasn’t as terrific as it sounded. Lane has been in some stinkers before,
like “Under the Tuscan Sun” (2003), but she was at the top of her game in
“Unfaithful” (2002). I don’t know if she’s a good actress or not. If you
look at her filmography, she hasn’t worked with “A” material very often.
Certainly mouthing the lines given her here by
screenwriter-director-producer Gary David Goldberg, she’s doesn’t look
much like Ethel Barrymore (thinking about that, maybe that’s all to the
good). But nobody could make these lines entertaining.
I don’t know what Goldberg’s
personal situation is, but it’s hard to believe he’s been single recently,
his “first dates” are so far from reality. The dialogue and situations he
invents are excruciating.
Explaining Plummer is even more
difficult. One of the great Shakespearean actors of his generation (he’s
the best Hamlet I’ve seen), Plummer has been a delight in films since “The
Sound of Music” (1965). Maybe he needed the work.
The story is simple. Sarah
Nolan (Lane) is recently divorced and everyone is trying to fix her up.
She meets two guys, Jake Anderson (Cusack) and Bob Connor (Dermot
Mulroney). It’s awkward with each. Which will it be (since Cusack is the
co-star, guess which?). Connor’s character is so predictable that Goldberg
must have pulled it out of an old “how to write a screenplay” primer.
Worse, Sarah’s first date with
Anderson ends up with both so horny they can’t wait to jump into the sack.
And the horniness continues for a long, long time as they drive all over
the city trying to find a condom. Has Goldberg ever been on a date? Not
only is this is one of the more ridiculous scenes ever filmed, it’s
inconsistent with Sarah’s character.
Speaking of mixed-up
characters, we’re supposed to like Jake, but after his first date with
Sarah he’s telling his buddy about her and gloating about the fact that
she’s vulnerable and he should be able to take advantage of that. That’s
admirable? Goldberg couldn't decide whether to make his characters'
nature consistent or go for the cheap joke, so he chose the latter, to the
detriment of the integrity of the film.
The scenes and conversations
between and among Sarah and her sisters are more of those scenes where the
dialogue is meant to be sharp and witty, but is instead insipid and
contrived. In fact, the relationships and dialogue between Sarah, on the
one hand, and her father, brothers and sisters are nothing more than
labored, ineffectual attempts at wit. Ugh!
This horror goes on for 75 long
minutes. But then, when Sarah tells Bob what she really thinks about him,
suddenly the film picks up. Even though the ending is hopelessly
ludicrous, the last 20 minutes at least got my brain working a little.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late.
July 30, 2005