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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Must Love Dogs

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Dec 9, 2005.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Must Love Dogs






    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2005
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 98 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $28.98
    Package: Single disc/Amaray keepcase





    The Feature:
    Sarah (played by Diane Lane) is a recently divorced woman who is intimidated by the thought of returning to the dating scene. Almost immediately, her family - including her forthright sister, Carol (played by Elizabeth Perkins), and her father, Bill (played by Christopher Plummer) - are urging her to get "out there” and back into the dating scene. Carol even goes so far as to put Sarah's profile up at an on-line dating service, which results in a number of humorous misfires.

    Eventually, she meets Jake (played by John Cusack), a guy who's different from the losers she has been hooking up with. Jake, who’s definitely more philosophical than many of the men Sarah has recently encountered is also still coming to terms with the breakup of his marriage and no longer knows how to date. Their first encounter doesn't go well, but each is willing to try again. A threat to their newly-hatched relationship occurs when Sarah, an elementary school teacher, falls for Bob - or "Bobby" as he prefers (played by Dermot Mulroney), the father of one of her pupils.

    The strange thing about Must Love Dogs is that it's funnier than the average romantic comedy but is noticeably and strangely, less romantic. There's a great scene in which Sarah and her father are matched up for a blind date. There's also a late night condom quest for an all-night drug store. There are some pointed comments about Dr. Zhivago. And the opening "interviews" are on-target. Sadly, the love affair between Sarah and Jake lacks the chemistry necessary in such a film. There is simply no spark. They seem better suited to be best friends than lovers, and it shows. Plus, while Sarah is at home in this sort of by-the-numbers movie, Jake is out of place. I enjoyed watching him - but he's more interesting than the material surrounding him.

    Maybe the relationship between Sarah and Jake would have worked if they had been given more screen time together. Unfortunately, Must Love Dogs feels the need to incorporate the age-old contrivance of "romantic complications." In this case, they are provided by Bob, who is the engaging and charismatic third party. A necessary plot device? Perhaps. But in this case, character development suffers as Sarah and Jake spend very little time together. Other romantic comedy devices appear; enter the fluffy and cuddly four legged ones. Who, just as their owners suffer, appear even less on screen - somewhat of an oddity given the name of the film.

    Diane Lane and John Cusack are better actors than the material they were afforded, but their presence will function as a prototypical chick-flick magnet. Unfortunately, only those with minimal expectations will come away satisfied. The clichéd Must Love Dogs contains enough wit to keep the average viewer entertained but clearly falls short of achieving a recommendation beyond satisfactory.

    The Feature: 3/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    Presented in it's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this transfer which is enhanced for widescreen is a fine effort. Colors are bright and vivid and the level of saturation is perfect. Blacks were deep while whites were contrasted nicely always showing clean and stark. There is a reasonably decent amount of image detail, albeit, sporadic at times. Some wider and longer shots aren't quite as sharp - not a big deal, really.

    Film grain was all but non-existent however, there is a gorgeous level of dimensionality and texture present here - very nice indeed. The film is immaculate and basically free of any dirt or other annoying blemishes - no surprise there considering this was a recent release. Authoring seems to have been handled very well as compression errors were non-existent. A hint of edge enhancement was noticeable infrequently but was never intrusive or bothersome.

    A nice job all around.

    Video: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    The audio soundtrack is a DD 5.1 encoded track and while it does what it needs to do, never reaches beyond the most basic of expectations. Most importantly, especially given the type of film, dialogue was always bold and intelligible. The film is accompanied by some music here and there and the soundstage is satisfactorily wide. No more, no less. This is virtually all dialogue driven so don't expect much in terms of depth or dynamics.

    While the track is 5.1, the surrounds are limited to only a couple of scenes requiring filler and ambiance. LFE doesn't factor in here. The track is clean and free of any hiss or other noisy distractions and the overall fidelity of the track is natural.

    A flawless but uninspiring track.

    Audio: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    Not a lot here in the special features department but the disc looks like this:
    [*] Additional Scenes with Commentary by Screenwriter/Director Gary David Goldberg. A total of 4 scenes are provided here and really, do (or would have done) very little - if anything - to enhance the film. Goldberg offers his comments setting up each of the clips as well as offering his reasoning for cutting them from the film. These can be viewed with or without the director's commentary. Duration: 8:22 minutes total.
    [*] Next up is Pass the Beef - Gag Reel which contains a measly two flubbed scenes whereby a packet of beef is hurled wildly during an awkward moment in the film. Duration: 59 seconds.
    [*] And finally, the Theatrical Trailer is the last inclusion which is, as we would expect, in perfect condition. Duration: 2:24 minutes.

    Special Features: 2/5
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Ya know, I like both Cusack and Lane - although admittedly, I'm not big on dogs. However, Must Love Dogs is a pre-packaged, finished product with only one particular target audience in mind. Sadly, the film does nothing different than any one of the other six hundred romantic comedies that were released this year. The film is rather bland and pretty much forgettable - a romantic comedy with affable characters and some funny lines, but unfortunately it never quite takes off. That's not to say the film should be avoided at all costs. Lane and Cusack deliver fine performances however, the characters seem to lack the spark one might expect from such fare.

    Given the nature of the film, the almost non-existent special features are forgivable and regardless of my thoughts on the film itself, the presentation is solid. With the season almost upon us, those looking to cozy up with their significant other on a cold winter night, might consider Must Love Dogs a worthwhile rental.

    Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]





    Release Date: December 20th, 2005
     
  2. Steve...O

    Steve...O Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Herb. This was a pleasant movie, and the charm of the two leads carried it a lot further than it might have gone otherwise.

    My wife is a major Cusack fan so this is on her Christmas list. I liked it because as I get older I like to see romantic movies featuring more mature actors.

    Steve
     
  3. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    I really enjoyed this film. It is nowhere near as corny as many other rom-coms and it is a good deal wittier and smarter. CUSACK and DIANE LANE are in good form and the supporting cast was also good. I don't really like romantic comedies but I really liked this one.

    Thanks for the review, but I thought they may have been a bit more generous with the extras. Especially considering the films $44 million boxoffice success?
     
  4. MichaelScott

    MichaelScott Well-Known Member

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    This was a good film for what it is, I really like Diane Lane and John Cusack so as it usually goes with me if I like the actors I tend to be more forgiving.
    These two are just fun to watch. There are some lame scenes that arn't very realistic, but if you have ever done any online dating some of it is also right on. As far as screen time together, and the secondary story, I thought that was believeable..the online angle made it realistic so I can't agree. People often think just because they meet someone online they don't have a life off it or arn't meeting anyone else or having things going on..in this case it's romantic complications..often you never really know what they do in their spare time so it seemed reasonable to me that she would have met this other guy which limited their screen time together.
     
  5. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    I agree...

    but there were some quality "laugh-out-loud" moments in this film.

    The little school kid "it's a gusher!" was funny, as was the Diane Lane date with her Dad bit, and the condom hunt. Elizabeth Perkins had some great lines also!

    All in all a really enjoyable and likeable film. [​IMG]
     
  6. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    Anyone else getting this?
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I bought it. Mainly for Cusak who I am
    a huge fan of. Will try to watch it
    over the next few days.
     
  8. Todd Hostettler

    Todd Hostettler Well-Known Member

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    My wife and I have a 3-year old Newfoundland dog, and I got her a lobby poster for the film since a Newfie is pictured prominantly in the middle.

    Oddly though, we never got around to seeing the movie!

    Maybe now we'll catch it.
     
  9. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Well-Known Member

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    I'm a big Cusack fan and saw this in the theater. I was highly disappointed. I liked Diane Lane's character but Cusack was boring. I saw no chemistry between the two of them. This was nowhere in the High Fidelity, Grosse Point Blank, Say Anything, The Sure Thing category.
     
  10. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    I think to be honest... it's more of a DIANE LANE film than a JOHN CUSACK film. Although CUSACK is in it and is quite funny (I thought) it's DIANE LANE who is in practically every scene.

    No bad thing though![​IMG]
     
  11. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley Well-Known Member

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    Anyone else noticed that Cusack's love interest in this film was also named the same as in "Serendipity"?
    Well close anyways, this one was Sarah and the other Sara,
    but I thought that was a bit odd [​IMG]

    I liked this movie quite well and enjoyed seeing Christopher Plummer for his short roll he played.

    G2
     
  12. george kaplan

    george kaplan Well-Known Member

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    Very telling actually. I love romantic comedies and really didn't like this one. I guess the dramatic angst that dominates it appeals to those who don't like the genre, whereas, it (and the aforementioned complete lack of chemistry) ruins it for those who appreciate the genre. It had a few laughs, but they were few and far between, and the intervening material was second rate. This is definitely no When Harry Met Sally, Pillow Talk or Adam's Rib.
     
  13. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Well-Known Member

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    Yeah Diane Lane had more chemistry with Marky Mark Wahlberg in the Perfect Storm than she had with Cusack in this
     
  14. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    I thought they had good chemistry together, although Lane also had good chemistry with Mulroney as well. Plummer was great! [​IMG]
     
  15. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Finally watched this last night.

    Yich!

    I love John Cusak and I'm in love with Diane Lane.
    The two of them together? Doesn't work.

    I can best describe this as mediocre entertainment
    filled with awful dialogue and chemistry -- not to
    mention that urge to break into a song -- something
    that happens in just about every "chick flick" ever
    made.

    I hate to be so tough on this film. I bought it
    blindly based on the trailer. I really wanted to
    like it and I'm very surprised I made it past the
    first 20 minutes after I realized what I was getting
    into.
     
  16. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    You didn't like it then? [​IMG]
    Don't mince words Ron. What do you really think? [​IMG]

    I think the singing of songs in rom-coms is in Dermot Mulroney's contract. He does it in "My Best Friends Wedding" as well!
     
  17. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Well-Known Member

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    The singing was the only good scene in My Best Friend's Wedding!
     
  18. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    I guess I'm in a minority here then, as I enjoyed "Must Love Dogs" AND "My Best Friends Wedding" [​IMG]
     
  19. Martin Jeeves

    Martin Jeeves Well-Known Member

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    I have to admit... I found this funny.

    Shame there are not more extras on the release. Maybe they are holding back extras for the eventual HD release?[​IMG]
     

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