As a kid, I thought she was the absolute end all in gorgeous toughness— specifically in Coppola’s Rumble Fish (remember how sexy cool she was in those cut offs?) a movie I rented enough to eventually never return to the video store. I love Rumble Fish for many reasons beyond Lane, but it always left me with the feeling of wanting to be Mickey Rourke and to look like Diane Lane. Like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface, Lane’s one of the few ‘80s actresses who made me want to grow up. When I recently confessed this to a friend, they suggested I seek help (about the Scarface part).
But never mind that, I heart Diane Lane and I’m committed to her tumultuous movie career. That saying, I’d like to pummel those a-holes who cast her in the asinine Must Love Dogs.
A movie in which we’re supposed to believe that the late 30-ish Lane would have problems finding men, her divorced preschool teacher Sarah dithers around an insecure, neurotic dip. This Meg Ryan shtick doesn’t work. It’s not simply that she’s pretty, that’s a given, but it’s those extra qualities to Lane—that mystery, those penetrating eyes, that placid sexiness—things that make men and probably every little boy in her preschool class go a little nutty.
But Must Love Dogs positions Lane as a loser, enough so she practically throws herself at the opposite sex. Maybe in Hollywood, Lane's considered an older gal, a “desperate housewife” (though she’s hotter than any of those tired botox abusers) but in the land of preschool teachers, she’d be fighting off men, boys and some women every time she walked on the playground.
Nevertheless, to aid her dating plight, Sarah’s sister (Elizabeth Perkins) places an ad for her on an internet dating site. I would KILL someone, even my own sister, if they did that to me but Sarah, a saint, goes along, enduring all the typical humiliations and “chuckles” these usual disastrous hook-ups provide. Even her father (Christopher Plummer) in a painfully unfunny scene, turns up as a “date.” Poor Diane. She’s lonely, she eats by herself and “she dosen’t want a bunch of chicken hanging around!”
Anyway, as expected Mr. Right does comes along in the form of John Cusack because well, he weeps in Dr. Zhivago. I guess that, along with Cusack’s nerdy hipster cred in other films (not this one) makes him sufficient heart-throb material but, please. First off, Zhivago? Overrated—maybe if he cried during Umberto D (it’s foreign and it’s about a DOG!) or I don’t know…at the end of A Place in the Sun, then we’d have a keeper. And secondly, his “witty” delivery wears itself out in lines written specifically for a laugh track. Lane’s obviously alluring, but Must Love Dogs weakens both actors to the point of Cusack having better chemistry with previous co-star Jack Black. And Black's High Fidelity character would knock some sense into him--at least by laughing at him for making the film equivalent of a “Cosby Sweat-ah!”
I may be biased in loving the Lane but the actress's presence didn't offer a balm to plodding, cloying feel good drivel. And for me, it’s not must love dogs, it's must love movies. Only, not movies like this.
"Must Love Dogs" opens today, July 29.