Again, Diane Lane is cast as a woman who can't get a man (see the even more
annoying "Under the Tuscan
Sun"). This is like casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as a guy who can't
lift a check book. Or Faith Hill singing like Miss Piggy. It's a concept
that doesn't click and won't compute. It's not just casting against
type--it's casting that defeats its own premise. But, okay, anything for an
excuse to put Ms. Lane back before the cameras with a few laugh lines.
Fortunately, some of the lines work and, for some panting hearts out there
you could call it amusing. But the premise doesn't lift off into anything
very meaningful for the demanding among us when one of its more interesting
attributes is Lane's changes of wardrobe when she's out on her string of
dates. But why is she so misdirected into the arms and beds of two men almost
The key to this movie about a gorgeous woman who is in a state of shock over
being left by her husband is that, at its heart and in its essence, it's one
big product placement for an existing commercial dating service on the
internet. Their URL is only mentioned (if not announced) clearly two,
possibly three times in the infomercial, er... the movie, so I don't feel the
need to repeat the plug here (until and unless they send a check).
It must be said that Christopher Plummer (as dad) does a fairly perfect
reading of a poem in what may be the most genuine moment of the film, but the
fact that it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie may make it
unappreciated. The soundtrack is another thing of beauty with songs by Linda
Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow and Natalie Cole the standouts. But that's about where
praise must end. Sarah's (Lane) heartwarmingly close family relationships
are overcooked enough to make one hunger for an ascetic bachelor dinner.
Which is the way this woman should have--but will never--wind up.
As for the love of dogs, it's more convincing in the Japanese anime' movie "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" than anything on
display here, where the pets are mostly used as props to justify the title.
The ploy to cast an actress with natural warmth and honesty doesn't work to
add those qualities to a part that's so contrived. Gary David Goldberg
directed from his adaptation of the Claire Cook novel and 35 pages of
dialogue changes from his co-lead, John Cusack. It's my guess the actor
improved Goldberg's screenplay, but his on-screen efforts didn't add anything
to the movie's struggle for sincerity. It's for hopeless, undemanding
romantics, indiscriminate dog lovers and uncritical Lane lovers. (Hmmm... I
might just fall in that latter category--she's a pleasure to watch even in
something as cooked as this.)
~~ Jules Brenner