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Although the plot is totally predictable in a romantic comedy sort of way, MUST LOVE DOGS ($29) greatly benefits from sharply drawn characters and a terrific cast that brings them to life. MUST LOVE DOGS stars Diane Lane as Sarah, a recently divorced teacher who is pushed back into the world of dating by her loving, supportive and somewhat overly romantic family members. Thanks to her sister’s intervention, Sarah’s reentry goes via the computer-dating route and is marked by a number of total misfires, including one very amusing blind date with her widowed father Bill (Christopher Plummer).

Even after the dating disasters, Diane perseveres and meets up with Jake (John Cusack), who has suffered through his own failed relationship. While Sarah and Jake’s first meeting goes rather badly, the two do recognize some sort of connection and try again. However, MUST LOVE DOGS adds a clichéd complicating factor in the form of Bob (Dermot Mulroney), an incorrigible charmer, who manages to come between Sarah and Jake, just as their relationship starts taking off. The cast of MUST LOVE DOGS also features Elizabeth Perkins and Stockard Channing.

Warner Home Video has made MUST LOVE DOGS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a really attractive looking movie, featuring an attractive cast in attractive locations. Image sharpness and detail are generally first rate, with only the odd shot appearing slightly soft. Colors are warm and vibrant, with natural looking flesh tones. Blacks are pure, whites are crisp, plus the levels of contrast and shadow detail are really quite good. The film elements are free from defects and appreciable grain is generally very mild. Digital compression artifacts remain under wraps.

MUST LOVE DOGS comes with a fairly standard comedy mix encoded into Digital 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital. The forward soundstage dominates the mix, with the rears only supplying ambient sound and musical fill. Fidelity is strong, with the musical component producing a sense of presence. The bass channel never calls attention to itself, as it has almost nothing to do. Dialogue is warmly rendered and easy to understand. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Additional Scenes With Commentary By Screenwriter/Director Gary David Goldberg offers eight minutes of material from the cutting room floor. Pass the Beef - Gag Reel runs less than a minute and glimpses two flubbed takes from a single scene. A Theatrical Trailer closes out the extras.

Although predictable, MUST LOVE DOGS is a very likable romantic comedy thanks to the strengths of its cast, as well as its characters. Warner’s DVD looks great and sounds just fine, so if you want to see MUST LOVE DOGS, the widescreen disc is the best way to go.



Must Love Dogs (Widescreen Edition) (2005)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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