Over the last couple weeks I’ve had the chance to catch up on some movies, as I’ve been at home quite a lot. One that I saw, and loved, was Must Love Dogs. Now, I have to admit to the John Cusack love; I’ll watch just about anything that he’s in, not just because I love the characters that he plays, but because he seems like a genuinely cool guy, and his sister is hilarious, so that’s got to say something about a person, right?
Must Love Dogs was pretty panned by critics, but I thought it was cute. I have to admit though, that there was one big thing that won me over. To make my point, however, lets look at the idea of a John Cusack character for a second. Looking over John Cusack’s illustrious career, you can’t help but notice a trend in the characters. (By the way, the word Cusack starts to look really weird when you’ve typed it a number of times.) I think everyone would agree that the quintessential Cusack character is Lloyd Dobbler. The essence of the Cusack character is evident in Lloyd- sweet, considerate, a girl’s guy but also a guy’s guy. He’s romantic, he’d do anything for the girl, and he does end up doing exactly the perfect thing to win her over and make every girl in the audience swoon, and every guy curse a little because now they have something else to live up to. (As a small aside, I read an interview once where John Cusack claimed not to know what a “John Cusack” character was– he can’t be that blind. Anyway.)
Ask just about any girl and she’ll tell you that a John Cusack character is her dream guy. Whether it’s Lloyd, or Rob from High Fidelity, or Martin from Grosse Pointe Blank, or even Ivan from Tapeheads (which I also saw this week, and which is hilarious), there’s a Cusack for everyone to love. But are they really dream guys? Take a look at Lloyd- his sole ambition is to be with the girl, he has no job prospects, no goals, and doesn’t really want to have any. Rob is obsessed with his past, and browbeats the girl into getting back with him. The characters make these great speeches, knowing just what to say and audiences eat it up, wishing some guy would speak such words of truth to them, but stop and think for a second. What if someone left this on your answering machine?
“Maybe I didn’t really know you. Maybe you were just a mirage. Maybe the world is full of food and sex and spectacle and we’re all just hurling towards an apocalypse, in which case it’s not your fault. I’m been thinking about all these things and… you’re probably standing there monitoring. And one more thing – about the letter. Nuke it. Flame it. Destroy it. – It hurts me to know it’s out there. Later.”
Would you swoon, or kind of freak out? The reality of it is that you’d probably kind of freak out. And that, my dearies, is why I loved Must Love Dogs. Because Jake, the Cusack character du jour, goes off on one of his speeches to make you swoon, and Diane Lane’s character gets just a little freaked out. And it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Besides, the rest of the movie is just plain cute, so if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. And if you’ve already seen it and didn’t like it, don’t tell me.