Must Love Dogs
Divorce can take a toll on a person's self-confidence. But throwing one's self back into the dating market can be even more frightening.
No one knows that better than Sarah (Diane Lane), a 30-something preschool teacher who has been traded in for someone younger and fairer. Rattling around her empty house, she struggles to keep her spirits up. Her family is concerned about her as well. Over dinner and drinks, her siblings offer her photos and phone numbers of several available options--some single, some married. Her older sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins), however, goes one step further and sets up an account on an Internet dating service. Describing Sarah as a voluptuous catch, the profile also stipulates all interested parties "must love dogs."
The ad solicits a host of replies from a host of prospective partners, some more appealing than others. It also catches the attention of Jake (John Cusack) a passionate boat builder who has just been dumped. His friends think he is in serious need of some social interaction. However he feels awkward about getting back in the matchmaking game and his initial meeting with Sarah at the dog park is clumsy and uncomfortable.
Still, Jake isn't the only one interested in Sarah. The recently separated father of one of her students starts to pay special attention in parent-teacher interviews. Despite her convictions to maintain a professional presence in the classroom, Sarah soon realizes Bob (Dermot Mulroney) has extracurricular activities on his mind.
After being on her own for so long, Sarah claims her greatest worry about going out with a man is the possibility of intimacy. Yet she appears to spend a great deal of the film in a heated hunt for it. As a result, the script includes numerous sexual discussions between adults and comments from young children who openly discuss their parents' extramarital affairs. Even Sarah's widowed father gets in on the action by pursuing an affair with his online acquaintance (Stockard Channing) and several other older women. The only positive relationship advice in the film comes from a homosexual couple that appears to be the happiest pairing of all.
Like many romantic comedies, the movie relies on misunderstandings and coincidental circumstances to draw out the storyline. But the film falls short of giving any conclusive reasons for Sarah's eventual choice. The characters' lack of discretion may also leave parents explaining some delicate details of adult relations. With profanities, plenty of drinking and near nudity in the shower and at a strip joint, Must Love Dogs barks up the wrong tree for family friendly entertainment.