Directed by Gary David Goldberg, starring Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins, Christopher Plummer, Stockard Channing and Dermot Mulroney.

Dogs don't feature very prominently in this dating disaster movie, so dog lovers may be disappointed. Romantic comedy lovers may be also.

Sarah Nolan (Lane), a nursery school teacher, is approaching 40. Divorced for eight months, she's reluctant to get back in the dating game. Her sister Carol (Perkins) decides enough is enough and posts Sarah's profile on an Internet dating site, much to Sarah's chagrin. A series of dates from hell follow, but when she meets the quirky and intense Jake (Cusack), a dog lover and 'Dr Zhivago'-style romantic, she becomes intrigued.

Things get confusing fast though, because Sarah is also attracted to the father of one of her students, Bob (Mulroney). The situation isn't helped by the fact that Sarah is apt to make bad decisions regarding love, and it soon looks likely that she will let her chance at real love slip away.

'Must Love Dogs' is full to the brim of dating jokes and advice for the lovelorn Sarah. The humour is intensified by the fact that her 71-year-old dad Bill (Plummer) is a total success in the modern dating game. Even his lady friend Dolly (Channing) has plenty of admirers. But beneath the comedy, there is a reminder of the pathos of those hurt by love, particularly when Sarah tells Dolly that her ex-husband never wanted a child, despite her desire for one, but is now expecting a baby with his new 20-something-year-old wife.

This element is all that saves 'Must Love Dogs' and it could have done with more on this theme. Otherwise, it's a pretty unoriginal story. You're never really sure what attracts Sarah to Jake and it's certain that she had more chemistry with Mulroney's Bob. Diane Lane is a better actress than parts like this make her out to be. She does her best with what's here, but the film could have been so much better.

You might want to take your dog for a long walk instead.

Katie Moten