Reviewed by: Kathy Bower
|Featuring:||Diane Lane, John Cusack, Dermot Mulroney, Christopher Plummer, Stockard Channing|
|Director:||Gary David Goldberg|
|Producer:||Suzanne Todd, Jennifer Todd, Gary David Goldberg|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
DATING—How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
DIVORCE—Under what conditions may Christians divorce and remarry? Answer
The hardest trick is making them stay.
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Sarah Hurlihy (Lane), a divorced preschool teacher who has sworn off dating after her bad breakup, finds her family pushing her back into the dating world. Her sister places a personal ad for her, declaring that anyone answering it “must love dogs,” despite the fact that Sarah doesn’t own a dog herself. When someone intriguing responds to the ad, she decides to borrow Mother Theresa, her brother’s dog, and plunge in.”
Viewers are introduced to Sarah (Diane Lane) first, as her meddling siblings attempt to push her into a relationship—any relationship. Jake (John Cusack) is brought onto the scene only moments later in another setting. Their two stories emerge separately, ultimately and predictably converging. Sarah’s family members seem to be functionably dysfunctional, with cliché members cropping up to enter plot details and inject some surprisingly funny scenes.
Jake’s character leaves us with enigmatic questions like “How is it a “if-not-forty-then-awfully-close-to-it” man can maintain a rather chic studio apartment overlooking his hobby/business/avocation of wooden boat building whilst facts are presented that he has sold none of the hand-made beauties?” That is but one of the many ravelings viewers are presented throughout the movie. Some characters, places, and objects are just there, with no visible means of support, nor raison d’etra. Interestingly, in spite of the loose-ends, the movie does flow, but primarily as a means of advertisement at times. There’s an Internet dating service touted shamelessly a number of times, as well as few other strategically-placed advertisements.
As the movie proceeds, it is explained that Sarah is divorced after her husband committed adultery with a woman fifteen years his junior. Jake is divorced apparently due to neglect on his part. There are the obligatory bad-date scenes for Sarah, while her meddling sister Carole (Elizabeth Perkins) seems to press Sarah toward the end goal of being emotionally attached to a prospective new spouse. The movie is overtly predictable, peppered with stereotypes in family and friends. It must be said, however, that the best humor is that related to circumstances surrounding family.
“Must Love Dogs” is likely to be touted as a good date flick, or chick flick. It is not appropriate for young children, and certainly not a healthy choice for teens. Sexuality is the main focus in much of the movie, and we are even tasked with a pseudo car chase while Jake and Sarah go on a city-wide search in the middle of the night for a drug store that carries condoms.
Profanity is limited, but I found it particularly disturbing that a preschooler was scripted to use the Lord’s name in vain.
Replete with a homosexual couple, promiscuous blonde bimbo, roving eye laciviously lecherous “best friend” (Ben Shenkman) and even a meddling Aunt Elaine, the movie labors forward at times. Yet, in the end, viewers see that ultimately good triumphs over evil, and love can overcome many obstacles.
The trouble is, there are these self-inflicted obstacles, as well as strangely placed characters and objects, whose purpose seem only to exist because somebody was related to the producer. I personally found it rather mysterious that the title inferred a strong relationship with the canine species, when ultimately the dogs are nearly useless plots.
It is disturbing though, that our main characters seem to need a sexual involvement as criteria for finding a life-mate. While a reasonable expectation of a sexual life as part of a life-partnership is understandable, the movie seemed to propel forward at times only via use of sex. Sarah isn’t necessarily promiscuous, yet she is pressured to wear “boob shirts” and a revealing dress. First dates are shown as resulting in passionate forays, and one relationship ends due to a cavalier attitude regarding sex. In the midst of the movie we are continually confronted with observing children. Some are wiser than the adults sent to teach them. It is easier for the adults to laugh at the precocious little comments that the preschoolers have than to become beacons of morality. In one major scene Sarah’s extended family celebrate a “FIRST COMMUNION” of one of the children. Other scenes include the introductions of couples both married and unmarried, committed to one another.
Jesus introduced his ministry at a wedding in Cana. Interestingly, one of his major teachings occurred when he traveled a great distance in order to reach a water well at a very specific moment in a particular woman’s life.
Our faith is presented in Scripture as understanding that we as a Church, or followers of Christ, are Brides of Christ. The fact is, in a Christian’s life, marriage and fidelity must be understood as holy pillars of faith. It should be maintained then, that we cannot take our marriage vows lightly. As followers, we know that we are not to place ourselves in a position of temptation. Our scriptures teach us that we are to seek the company of moral persons, and avoid the debased and sinful ones.
While we are sexual beings, created with obvious design to attract one another in order to pro-create, moral choices are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Christians need to be mindful of the temptations of the world lest these things mire them down into acts of moral destruction.
“Must Love Dogs” is attractive, funny, and delightful at times. It is however, also loaded with adultery and peppered with identification that sex acts are most important aspects of character. Therefore my bottom line warning is that if we as Christians seek out this movie or any of its type, we must be mindful of the fact one of the seven deadly sins is lust. The wages of lust caused the demise of Sarah’s first marriage. The wages of lust nearly destroyed the possible relationship between Sarah and Jake.
It is unfortunate that a potentially great love story became trite, predictable, and offensive when forced to display continual allusions to illicit sex. How is it that movie makers mistrust the ability to succeed at the box office if they could just write the same movie script sans misuse of sex? The obvious success of good or positive moral choices are oddly interspersed in the story line. Unfortunately, the bottom line is the movie concentrates on exploitation of sex rather than making good moral choices.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.