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MUST LOVE DOGS

movie trailer (quicktime)

NOTE: This Spoiler sent in by Jennifer from KFOX TV who says... "I'm not usually into watching chick movies, but this one was actually not that bad.  John Cusack is a top actor, and Diane Lane is radiant.  It really shines a humorous look on internet dating and the assumptions we make about people."

During the credits, we see a few random singles talking about where they meet people of the opposite sex.

The actual film starts off in Sarah Nolan's kitchen. It's a homey looking, country house. We get the impression she's around age 40, and divorced not so long ago. Her two sisters Carol and Christine, brother Michael are there as a "dating intervention." They all have pictures of men they want to set Sarah up with. Sarah doesn't seem very into the idea. All of her siblings are married. We also find out Sarah's ex-husband is named Kevin. Michael seems to be having marital woes, and his wife doesn't like their big dog "Mother Teresa" so she is staying with Sarah indefinitely. Her family is very intrusive, even scolding Sarah for not having much food in the house. She says she didn't have time to shop this month. Finally, the family leaves after putting the pictures up on the refrigerator. Sarah removes all of them... but ends up putting one magazine picture of an attractive man up there.

Sarah is a preschool teacher that loves children. She seems to have a few colleagues who work under her. They include Leo, a kind gay guy and June, a young perky blond. Leo is complaining about his boyfriend's parents coming to visit again. When Sarah asks the kids how their weekends were, the kids have some very "adult" answers. One boy says his "Uncle" came over, but that he's not really his uncle. We get the impression that it's his mother's boyfriend. Another boy, Austin, says his parents are trying it apart. He also adds that his mother called his father "incorrigible" implying that he's got a wandering eye. While playing a game, Austin accidentally gets hit in the nose and begins bleeding profusely. His father, Bob Connor, comes to check on him. Bob and Sarah have a flirtatious conversation. She mentions that her first boyfriend was named Bobby, and he was "Woo!" she says while making hand gestures. Bob insists Sarah call him Bobby so he can be "Woo!" too.

We then meet Jake Anderson (John Cusack) meeting with his lawyer and friend at his house. The lawyer has just helped Jake get a divorce, and he's now broke. He builds beautiful handcrafted boats at home, but never sells any. Lawyer tries to set him up with a girl named "Sherry" who is apparently promiscuous and in her early 20's. Jake's not interested.

Later, Sarah's sister Carol (Elizabeth Perkins) comes over. She wants to talk about Sarah's personal life. They discuss Bob, but Sarah says she's not interested in getting involved because he's a parent of one of her students. Carol confesses that she placed an ad for Sarah on PerfectMatch.com. The two look on a computer, and Sarah is embarrassed because Carol posted her high school graduation picture (in a cap and gown) on the website. Carol asks if her wedding picture would have been better. Carol's description of Sarah in her profile is quite outlandish. It says she is voluptuous, and that the guys she goes out with "must love dogs." After her sister leaves, Sarah peruses the site. She has numerous voice messages, but they all seem like men that aren't her type.

The sisters are all in Sarah's bedroom helping her to get dressed for her first internet date. Her date is a man in his 50's, that enjoys long walks on the beach, and etc... He is supposed to be at a restaurant with a yellow rose. When Sarah meets her date, she discovers it's her father, who is actually 71. She is even more embarrassed than the high school picture. Later, she tries to relax in the bathtub and her sisters call to tease her about the date.

Sarah goes grocery shopping and is at the deli counter. She wants a single order of roasted chicken, but the deli counter guy keeps on pushing specials to encourage her to buy an entire fryer chicken. Exasperated, Sarah says she's single, eats alone at the counter, and doesn't want a bunch of chicken hanging around. At this point, the deli guy looks frightened.

There's a montage around this point of the movie, of Sarah going on disastrous dates. One of her dates, Lenny, can't stop crying. Another seems to be a criminal. And yet a third likes girls that are barely legal.

At an art gallery, Jake and the Lawyer are talking. Jake sees Sherry, and she asks why he didn't give her a call. He seems none too interested. The Lawyer thinks Jake is stupid for not having a hookup with her. Then he pulls out a printout of Sarah's profile. Jake sees the high school photo, and is a bit weary. The Lawyer tells Jake he has a date with her the next day at a dog park, and that he'd better bring a dog.

Sarah and Mother Theresa are at the dog park sitting on a bench. Jake shows up with a borrowed West Highland Terrier? (It may have been a mixed breed.) Sarah and Jake have an awkward meeting. Jake is very intense, and starts trying to analyze what her profile meant. "Voluptuous" usually means fat, athletic means flat chested. Sarah is pretty offended. Jake's borrowed dog plays dead. He tells her the dog isn't really is, and she accused him of being deceptive. He points out that the requirement was "Must love dogs" not "Must own a dog." Their banter goes back and forth. They are both clearly not that comfortable with the idea that they met on the internet. She leaves abruptly, but agrees to see him again in a different setting.

Sarah's dad Bill (Christopher Plummer) and family are invited to his new internet girlfriend's home. She is Dolly (Stockard Channing), a nice, but eclectic woman who lives in a trailer development. It also turns out that Bob Connor is now living his separated life at the same trailer development. Bob ends up joining the group for dinner. They all enjoy the company, and end up singing the theme song from "The Partridge Family" because Sarah and Carol had a childhood crush on David Cassidy.

Jake and the Lawyer are watching Dr. Zhivago, one of Jake's favorite movies. He likes how unromanticized and real the love story seems. Jake admits that Sarah "Dog Park Girl" really intrigued him.

Sarah and Jake finally go on a real dinner date. Her sisters have dolled her up in a sexy dress, and a glamorous updo for her hair. They go to a small family restaurant, because Jake is close with the owners, an older married couple. Again, he is very intense and wants to cut all the small talk. He asks her why she's not with her husband anymore. She explains that he just stopped loving her. We also learn that he was never ready for them to have children, which seems to be very important to her. Kevin left her for a woman 15 years younger, and they're now married and a baby is on the way.

The date progresses back to Sarah's house, and they attempt to have sex but discover neither has a condom. A crazy drive around town in pursuit of protection ends in success, but by then, neither of them are still in the mood.

Jake and the lawyer are at his home talking about Sarah. Meanwhile, a man comes to look at a boat and immediately wants to buy it. He also says he is going to cut the boat up to hang it on his wall above his big screen TV. Jake refuses to sell the boat to this man, because the boat is meant to be on the water.

It's Halloween time, and there is a party at the preschool and parents are invited. Sarah is dressed as a leopard. All of the fathers are checking out young June, who is clad in what seems like an inappropriate cowgirl outfit with a miniskirt. She says she is glad to see so many dads "interested in their kids lives." Bob shows up and ends up alone with Sarah. They flirt, and have a juice toast together until she has to attend to one of the children wetting their pants.

That night, Jake calls to talk to Sarah when Dolly comes to the door with an emergency. Dolly has been talking to a teenage boy from San Francisco online. He mistook her age "61" for "16" and she never had the heart to tell him. Well, the boy has shown up on her doorstep to proclaim his love for her. It seems like he's traveled quite a ways to be there. Finally, Dolly convinces her 15 year old friend that they can never be together. The kid still seems heartbroken.

Sarah leaves Dolly's home and decides to see if Bob is home. He is, but he is with June. She assumes they are on some sort of date, and runs away, clearly disappointed. But she drops something on the ground.

When Sarah arrives home, she finds her brother Michael, and Jake. Michael's wife kicked him out, and he's pretty drunk. Jake's been taking care of him. He was worried when Sarah just dropped the phone, and decided to check up on her. When Michael is sacked out, Jake tells Sarah he wants to take her rowing. He tries to show her how to row, and they end up kissing. Jake decides to take Michael home, and while he is gone Sarah lights some candles and sets the mood for his return. The doorbell rings, and she is expecting Jake, but it's Bob. He says he's there to return what she dropped. (It looked like a magazine or a pamphlet or something) Bob also tells Sarah that June was just dropping Austin off and that they're not involved. He kisses her right as Jake is coming in the back door with Michael slung over his shoulder. Apparently he passed out in the car, and couldn't tell Jake where he lived. Bob leaves. Jake leaves, upset.

At the preschool, June tries to explain that there is nothing going on between her and Bob. She encourages Sarah to go for him.

It's Thanksgiving, and the family is all together. Once again, they are trying to set Sarah up with a bunch of men and hand her picture after picture. Dad Bill has invited Dolly over, and two other younger women. Dolly tells Sarah she's falling for Bill, and she doesn't want him to date other people. Later, Sarah and her father discuss their personal lives. He tells her he is having fun, but nothing can compare to the love of his life, Sarah's mother. Sarah also tells her dad that Dolly is falling in love with him, and that he needs to be a gentleman.

Jake and the Lawyer are once again, watching Dr. Zhivago. Jake is depressed, and now agrees to sell his boat to the man who will hang it on his wall. He also decides to go out with Sherry.

Meanwhile, Sarah is really getting into the internet dating and posting profiles on several other websites. She also reinvents herself on a number of dates, and is sort of masquerading as different personalities.

The next scene is with Sarah and Bob riding in a convertible. Bob says he's surprised she called him. They go to a swanky hotel, and have sex. In the morning, Bob treats her poorly and says they can't stay long because he has a game later on. There is breakfast in the room, and he asks if she minded "getting it to go." On the drive home, Bob admits that he slept with June. He also says he lied about it so nothing would get in the way of them getting together, but makes it clear that he only thinks of her as a hookup. When he drops her off at her house, Sarah calls him on his inacceptable behavior. She creates quite the scene and says she's mad at herself for buying his "dad of the year sensitive guy" act. She also calls him a bastard.

We then see her in the shower, crying.

She is back at the grocery store with the same Deli Counter guy. He looks terrified to see her. Again, he tells her the specials and she throws a tantrum. He says he has to tell everyone the specials. She wants the single order chicken again. The Deli Counter guy tries to give her some dating advice, but it just ticks Sarah off. He asks her if she's ever tried internet dating, and she stalks away angrily.

Leo and his boyfriend (Eric) come over to help cheer Sarah up. They all go to a salon to get manicures and pedicures using their teacher gift certificates. Sarah sees Jake leaving a movie theater. It was of course, a showing of Dr. Zhivago. In her nail mitts and flip flops (with cotton between her toes) she runs out to talk to him. They strike up a conversation, and then his date, Sherry shows up. Sherry did not understand Dr. Zhivago and thought it was boring. It turns out Sarah really likes Dr. Zhivago and "gets" the movie, which perks Jake up. She leaves, feeling dejected. Sherry asks Jake up to her apartment, and he rejects her offer and walks home depressed.

Leo, Eric, and Sarah are then in her kitchen discussing what happens. She believes she blew it with Jake. The gay men attempt to make her feel better about herself.

It's another day, and Jake is outside a coffee shop with his boat. He accidentally meets Sarah's dad Bill who admires the boat. Jake tells him that he is having love problems, and confesses that he's heartbroken. Bill says, "I have a daughter." Jake quickly shakes his head "no" and they part ways.

Bill was actually on his way to Sarah's house with coffee for them to share. Bill quotes something that Jake had told him. Sarah asks him where he got the saying, and her father tells her about meeting Jake. Sarah realizes that the girl he's talking about is her.

She is now at Jake's house with Mother Theresa, and runs into the Lawyer. The Lawyer tells her he is out on the lake with the boat for one last time. He also semi hits on her.

Sarah runs to the lake and repeatedly yells out Jake's name, but he cannot hear her. He is getting farther and farther away, and she is not quite sure what to do. Comically, she convinces a girls' crew team to give her and Mother Theresa a lift. As she nears Jake, he still cannot see or hear her. She takes off her jacket and plunges into the water, followed by Mother Theresa. Sarah swims over to the boat and climbs in with Jake. Mother Theresa, soaking wet, also hops in. He puts his own jacket around her, as she is freezing.

Without reservation, Sarah tells Jake how she feels about him. They kiss.

Sarah is again back at the grocery store at the same deli counter. The Deli Counter guy looks even more afraid than he did before. He stammers "Single order of chicken right? No specials, no dating advice." She smiles and says she would like to order three whole fryers. The Deli Counter guy looks confused. Jake then comes up behind her, and puts his arm around her. He's holding a huge bag of dog food. The Deli guy says "YES!!" and looks upward as if he's talking to God or something. We then see Jake and Sarah at a huge outdoor family party. They are helping to serve the food.

The movie ends with couples telling the stories of how they met. Carol's husband cannot remember how they met, and she storms off. The restaurant owners say their business is a great place to meet people, and give the address out like it's a mini commercial. Sherry and some guy (it might be Michael) announce that they're engaged. Then Jake and Sarah (hugging and kissing) say in unison that they met at a dog park.

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