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LAist Watches: Must Love Dogs

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The romantic comedy can sometimes be a bit of a hard sell these days. What passes as comedy can often leave a lot desired to a certain discerning audience, whereas sometimes a discerning audience feels compelled to just put up and shut up, and drop a ten dollar bill on a couple hours' worth of entertainment. We're sometimes kind of suckers for the lighter, lovelorn fare, which, in combination with a couple of good pals, is what brought us into the dark, icebox of a theatre to see Diane Lane and John Cusack get cute in Must Love Dogs. And, honestly, we found ourselves quite smitten.

Lane plays Sarah, a divorced preschool teacher whose well-intentioned close knit family places an ad on her behalf on an internet dating site. (Incidentally, we thought that the site was a parody of Match.com, but, as it turns out, there is such a thing as PerfectMatch.com!) Meanwhile, recently divorced and heartbroken Jake (Cusack) is set up in a similar manner by his best buddy, and between all the meddlers, the pair are just destined to meet. But an easy, breezy "happily ever after" must be earned, and so the pair have a bumpy start. The film is full of supporting players who turn in charming turns as the members of Sarah's nutty family tree, including Christopher Plummer as her dating-savvy father, and Elizabeth Perkins as one of her sisters. Stockard Channing steps into a sweet and comic role as a wise and witty older woman who falls for Sarah's dad, but truly touches Sarah's heart. Yes, yes, you've busted us completely here; we're just the kind of saps who enjoy warm movies that remind us that, despite the odds we tend to stack against ourselves, and, something we know a little too well, despite the wacky and weird nature of online dating, love does happen here in LA. Well, we're pretty sure it's meant to be LA--we caught a glimpse of our own street and neighborhood a few times, although we're also thinking some of it was shot in Santa Barbara and Pasadena.

The temptation to get cutesy, what with the titular dogs, the preschoolers, and the energetic family must have been high, but Must Love Dogs does a really good job of playing it for the most part on the level. They tackle internet dating with a decent accuracy, depicting the sort of wild abandon of creating an alternate online persona and the heinous dates people go through quite well. To call the film realistic would be a stretch, as Hollywood has long taught us that our romantic comedy protagonists must run through some pretty outlandish hoops before the happy ending, and this is certainly the case here. But what the film does do realistically is touch on the frustration of singlehood, the torment of dating, and the value of perserverance and honesty. Considering we know firsthand and a bit too well about all of the above we're thinking that Must Love Dogs was our own "Perfect Match" and, so far, the best "date" we've had in a while.

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Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/Yahoo! Movies