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MUST LOVE DOGS

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If your personal ad reads "Must Love Formulaic Romantic Comedies," you'll find your heart's desire in Gary David Goldberg's stab at the quite familiar. His film, based on Claire Cook's novel, is a checklist of genre conventions: bad blind dates, pushy family, sassy gay pals, singletons moping about in cute pajamas, Sheryl Crow songs, ur-romanctic film touchstone (here, Dr. Zhivago), and the frantic last-minute rush to hook up. Diane Lane and John Cusack portray our impaired singles -- two good-looking, smart, funny recent divorcees who still can't find dates -- and while each actor has a winning moment or two, there ain't much chemistry between 'em. Lane also dabbles with the roguish Dermot Mulroney, but the story quickly punishes her for showing any independent spirit. Cusack updates his sensitive-guy shtick from Say Anything (he's the one weeping over the Siberian love triangle). Must Love Dogs is mostly inoffensive and pleasant, but you've dated this movie before. (AH)

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