September 22, 2006 -- This is a movie I had been wanting to see for a long time. I finally got my chance to see it and it turns out I hadn't really missed anything after all. It is a bust. John Cusak (“High Fidelity”) and Diane Lane “Under the Tuscan Sun”) are good actors and Cusak is one of my favorites. The premise of the film seems to be good. It is a rather straightforward romantic comedy, based on a novel by Claire Cook. There is nothing complicated about the formula. It has been around for a hundred years in movies. What went wrong? The script is a bit dodgy and the actors seem to be going through the motions. The only actors who give convincing performances in the film are veteran actors Christopher Plummer (“Inside Man”), who plays Bill, the patriarch of the family and Stockard Channing (“Smoke”), who plays Bill's girlfriend.
Lane plays Sarah Nolan, a woman whose husband left her for a younger woman, and Cusak plays Jake, a man recently divorced. They meet through an online dating site, even though neither one of them really visited the web site in question. That is just one of the ways this film strains credulity. Neither one of them is really interested in dating, but, inexplicably, they go through the motions of dating anyway. Speaking of inexplicable, Jake builds boats that nobody buys. How is it he makes a living, anyway? There is no explanation for that one. His character's love of the movie “Dr. Zhivago” seems awfully strange, too, as is his relationship with his friend, Charlie (Ben Shenkman of “Angels in America”). Through all of this waltz a whole parade of meddling friends and family members, including busybody matchmakers and the obligatory gay couple. Sarah's family is supposed to be Irish, but they didn't seem so.
Most of these characters have no particular shape to them. They seem to exist only to deliver lines of dialogue, except for Bill (Christopher Plummer), one of only two characters of substance in the film. Other actors in the film include Elizabeth Perkins as Sarah's sister, Carol, Dermot Mulroney as Bob Connor, Sarah's other love interest, and Stockard Channing as Dolly. The movie does a feature some funny situations and there are a few good one-liners, but most are delivered flat. A series of first dates, arranged through the Internet, are supposed to be funny. They aren't. It is not an unpleasant film. As a time-waster it is worth about a one dollar DVD rental. It could have been a lot better than that. It rates a C.
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