Admittedly, I am not the demographic for this film. As hard as it tries to cross over and appeal to guys, it can't transcend the boundaries of "chick flick".
And it isn't even a good `chick flick' at that. Yes, I've seen my share.
Sarah (Diane Lane), a recently divorced preschool teacher, is lost when it comes to the dating scene. Her `crazy family' comes over for dinner carrying pictures of eligible guys they want to hook her up with. Her brother-in-law doesn't know of anyone, so he brings a picture of a model from a magazine. After dinner, as they leave, they each pin their picture to her refrigerator. As her father (Christopher Plummer), older sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins), and other brothers and sisters leave, she begins taking the pictures down. Carol also posts Sarah's profile on a singles website under the heading `Must Love Dogs'. She goes on a couple of dates, all of which end in disaster. One day, at the preschool, she realizes that Bob (Dermot Mulroney), a single dad, is really attractive and they begin flirting. She also goes on a strange first date with Jake (John Cusack), a recently divorced wooden scull builder (no, not kidding) who answers her ad.
The biggest problem with "Dogs", which is actually a very apt name for the film, just remove the `s', is that the screenplay is terrible. Diane Lane and John Cusack are very likable actors and this story would seem tailor fit for their personalities, but they both are simply boring. The story is about Sarah, yet, the only thing we ever learn about her character is that she needs a man in her life to feel happy. Not very enlightened or interesting. We never learn about her hobbies, her interests, anything except that she needs a man. Her character serves as a vehicle for writer/ director Gary David Goldberg to introduce all of the other wacky characters in her life. Except that they aren't that wacky. Dad is an aging widower who lies on his singles website profile, he also juggles three women at once, one of whom, Molly (Swoosie Kurtz, er... actually, it's Stockard Channing, but it's difficult to tell them apart these days) really falls for him and sticks with him even when he has a harem of women around him. Carol buys meat for Sarah to give to each of her dates. Are you laughing yet? I know, I wasn't either.
When Sarah and Jake meet for the first time, each of them borrows a dog. I guess Sarah loves dogs so much she doesn't want one in the house. Jake borrows the dog of his friend/ lawyer. The dog is really cute, but their dialogue, which is supposed to smart and witty, is just painful. Jake questions why Sarah put voluptuous in her profile. She gets offended and they make more pained small talk before she leaves. Remarkably, she goes on another date, with similarly awkward circumstances. Then, inexplicably, they are racing around town looking for a condom. This scene might have been funny, if the two characters even seemed remotely interested in one another. Instead, Lane's Sarah is depressed and dour all of the time.
Unfortunately, Goldberg seems stuck in the TV landscape he has lived in for so long, he created "Family Ties" and worked on many others. He feels it necessary to create wacky situations rather than to create real characters and let the situations come from their real lives. The father's harem, the condom race, Sarah's riding a boat out to meet Jake, all of these situations are so contrived. Normal people don't act like this. Normal film characters don't act like this. TV characters act like this. I half expected Plummer to do a pratfall and land at the feet of a blonde and brunette who console him by rubbing up and down against him.
Yes, you "Must Love Dogs" if you are going to like this film.