She is just like a million women in the U.S. - a successful, attractive, middle-aged woman who's long-term marriage had suddenly ended, throwing her back into a world which has long been unfamiliar to her. She is Sarah Nolan, played by the lovely Diane Lane, a preschool teacher in her late thirties. Although she has only been divorced for less than a year, her family is concerned that she remains depressed and lonely, moping around in her pajamas and refusing to go out. Unbeknownst to Sarah, her family makes plans for her, even going so far as to create a profile for her on an online matchmaking site. In her profile, they even specify that potential matches "must love dogs" while in reality, Sarah actually hates them. The responses come pouring in and soon Sarah is back in the singles scene - dating the best of the lot who replied to her fake ad. Each date is a bust, which doesn't surprise Sarah, but her family pushes her into yet another date with a "hot" guy and once again, she gives in.
Meet Jake Anderson, a deep, intense boat-builder who is also newly divorced and really does love dogs. He is charming and trustworthy, and the attraction between the two of them sparks right away. Of course, right as Sarah is getting to know Jake, she's also interested in a new prospect at the school she works for. A separated dad, Bob Connor (Dermot Mulroney) catches her eye and sparks fly between them as well.
Casually deciding between two men who both seem to have what she needs, Sarah learns to love again, learns to trust her heart, and has a lot of fun along the way.
Overall, not a bad film. Must Love Dogs was certainly fun to watch; who doesn't love either adorable John Cusack or sexy Diane Lane? The supporting cast was also enjoyable. Sarah's family set an interesting backdrop to the story of her love search, although there were a few side plots that were never fully pursued or explained. Stockard Channing was really great as Dolly, a woman that Sarah's father is dating.
The basic story pulls you in right away. We've all been there - newly single after ending a relationship, wondering if your heart is closed forever, and leery of online dating services. Diane Lane perfectly captures a sense of loneliness and desperation along with the cynicism and defensiveness that accompany them. John Cusack is as funny as always, although he didn't seem as "into" this role as he did in his other romantic films. Remember "Serendipity" or "Say Anything?" That intensity just wasn't there this time. There also wasn't a lot of thinking ahead required in this film. It isn't necessary to figure anything out - it's handed to you on a platter and very easy to predict. Despite that, the movie still manages to engage you and at least make you smile.
Based on the popular novel, Must Love Dogs made a decent transistion to film and makes for a fun date movie, but isn't neccessarily one for the home collection.
*Songworthy: "The First Cut Is the Deepest" - Sheryl Crow
*Tidbits: The dogs who played "Mother Teresa" were both adopted by the director when the filming ended.