Tag Archives: Dermot Mulroney

Must Love Dogs

Sarah (Diane Lane) comes from a big family, and they’ve all gathered in her kitchen to humiliate her. And by humiliate her, I mean that they’re throwing an intervention. That makes it sound like a party, I suppose, and it is most decidedly not. Nor is it quite as serious as it sounds. They’re not trying to send her to rehab. They’re trying to relaunch her back into the dating world after a devastating divorce. It doesn’t work – at least, not until she accidentally answers her own father’s personal ad. That’s a new low, as you can imagine. So maybe now she’s open to it. Ish. Her sister makes her a dating profile with quasi-consent (a good time to remind you that this movie was released in 2005).

Meanwhile, across town, a boat builder named Jake (John Cusack) is also newly on the market with a bruised heart that’s still trickling blood. He’s also got a friend/divorce attorney pushing him into the internet dating thing, and that’s how they wind up meeting – at a dog park, each with a borrowed canine friend. The date is shaky; Jake is so nervous he can’t stop insulting Sarah. Their next date has crazy beautiful moments of connection and chemistry, and then terrible lows that radiate awkwardness. So there’s wiggle room for a guy like Bobby (Dermot Mulroney) to enter the picture and sweep Sarah off her feet with his smooth technique. Dramaaaaa!

Anyway, it’s nice to see a rom-com for the middle aged. For the sad-sacks post divorce. For the cynics and the chronically depressed. And yet it still manages to charm. Of course, you might hope for a little more from two grown-ups who have loved and lost. You’d hope they’d have grown, that they’d have some insights. That they’d be better at this. And they’re really not.

Must Love Dogs should have Loved Rewrites. There’s nothing in here that you haven’t seen before. It’s not just that you see things coming from miles away – it’s that they’ve literally just traced a rom-com road map and hit up each and every landmark and rest stop along the way. And yet Lane and Cusack are just so good together. Never underestimate the likability of your leads.

I never got to write myself a dating profile, but even if I had, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to write Must Love Dogs, even though that’s obviously true. And thank goodness I wasn’t able to cock-block myself, because Sean never would have answered such an ad. He grew up with cats. But my little puppy Herbie won him over. No surprise there: Herbie is a stud, he wins over everyone he meets. Sean is a harder sell, and yet he was surprisingly able to win over Herbie, which was the more important part of the equation. I’d only had Herbie about 4 months when I met Sean, but Herbie had already been subjected to quite a few gentlemen callers and let me tell you – he wasn’t impressed. He’d scowl and growl and generally do his best to look ornery and intimidating (he was a four pound fluff ball but in his mind he was a full-fledged hell hound). He kept his eye on Sean for a bit, but he made it clear they were friends. That said, Herbie will never let Sean forget that it’s me and Herbie who are the original members of this household, and Sean’s just lucky we let him in the club. Now we have 3 more dogs because we can’t get enough. And this movie definitely put me in the mood for more. I mean, a gentle wind can put me in the mood for more. I Do Love Dogs! But I live in a city where the bylaws actually state that acquiring a fifth animal would force me to declare myself a farm. And as much as I Super Duper Love Dogs, it seems like a lot of hassle. Or…is it maybe a little bit of hassle and an excellent tax write off? Or a medium amount of hassle and a whole lot more love in my life? Or quite a bit of hassle but a good excuse to buy cute cowboy boots? Or a heck of a lot of hassle that I can offload on Sean, and simply reap the rewards of puppy love while outsourcing the work?

Did I just talk myself into puppy #5?

TIFF18: Homecoming

Has TV been more exciting than movies lately? People have been saying so for some time and, given that we aren’t Assholes Watching Television, the idea sometimes makes me a little defensive. I have to admit though that the first four episodes of Homecoming were the most challenging and exhilarating two hours that I spent at TIFF this year.

The current legitimacy of episodic television is hard to deny when Julia Roberts, one of the biggest movie stars in my lifetime, starts turning to tv for interesting roles. In the new series directed by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, Roberts plays a counselor in a facility whose mandate is ostensibly to help American soldiers returning from their deployments to adapt to life back home. It’s clear from her first phone call with her superior (Bobby Cannavale, as awesome as ever) that there’s something more nefarious or at least more secretive going on at this facility. What is less clear is exactly what that is. Things start to reall get interesting when Julia’s favourite patient (If Beale Street Could Talk’s Stephan James, who will almost definitely be a huge star this time next year) starts to suspect something is amiss.

Homecoming may not be quite the best thing I saw at TIFF this year. That honour probably goes to Widows. But it’s definitely the most original. Just like in Mr. Robot, Esmail’s strange choice of camera angles and Maggie Phillips’ score which often doesn’t seem to match the tone of what we think we’re seeing all contribute to the feeling that there’s so much more going on here then we realize. I can’t wait for the show to finally air in November so I can watch the rest and find out what that is.

Somehow, Homecoming is an adaptation of creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg’s podcast which I’ve never listened to nor do I understand what it could possibly be. Together with Esmail, they have assembled an impressive cast that also includes Sissy Spacek, Alex Karpovsky, Shea Whigham, and Dermot Mulroney. Together they have made one of many compelling examples of how television can be just as creative and satisfying as an Oscar season feature film.

Dirty Grandpa

Robert De Niro clearly relishes his role in Dirty Grandpa as, you guessed it, the dirty grandpa. He cusses lots and spikes drinks with Zanex and flirts with Aubrey Plaza and takes his shirt off a lot and clearly is having a ton of fun all the way through.  Zac Efron also takes his shirt off a lot but throughout this movie he looks as uncomfortable as the middle aged, flip-phone owning couple sitting directly in front of us at last night’s screening. Maybe, as Jay observed, Efron is coming to the sobering realization that being shirtless is his thing and the best he can hope for is to be brought back as the shirtless grandpa if this movie is the start of a Rocky-like franchise.

My money’s on there being no sequel. Dirty Grandpa has a lot of laughs and an abundance of dick jokes, but it also seemed unnecessarily long and unnecessarily concerned with plot. I didn’t need to see everyone learn a lesson. I certainly did not need three generations of lessons being taught to De Niro, Efron, and Dermot Mulroney. And we see stereotypes of hippies, lacrosse jocks, and gang members learn something too. The only ones exempt from this rule seem to be the very funny Jason Mantzoukas (a.k.a. Rafi from the League!) as a Daytona Beach drug dealer, and Adam Pally as Efron’s cousin.  At least the writers had the good sense to allow those two to do their crazy guy routines the whole way through Dirty Grandpa.  I wish they had given everyone such free reign.  I was just there to laugh and didn’t need everything to be wrapped up perfectly, or at all.

I thought all the lessons really took away from Dirty Grandpa’s momentum, mainly by taking the focus off dirty De Niro.  That hurt this movie a lot because De Niro as the dirty old guy is by far the best part.  He’s really, really funny, but all too often he’s jolted out of that role when sad Efron calls him the worst grandpa ever (which happens every ten minutes or so).  Take out all the grandpa-grandson make-up sessions and Dirty Grandpa would have been far more enjoyable.

Dirty Grandpa is a decent comedy, much better than I expected, but since the story seriously impedes these characters’ escapades, it seems like an opportunity missed.  I give it a score of seven horny octogenarians out of ten.

Northpole: Open For Business

Okay, so first thing you need to know is that there are several secret Christmas cheer ‘power stations’ around the world upon which Santa relies for powering his sleigh as he does his annual globetrotting Christmas Eve run. The Northern Lights Mountain Inn in Vermont is one such station, run by Grace for many years, who threw legendary Christmas Eve parties there each year. But Grace has passed and the inn has been willed to her niece, Mackenzie (Lori Laughlin, of “bribing her kids into college” fame). Mackenzie has fond memories of her childhood there but she’s a businesswoman now and she sees the inn as a money maker – if she fixes it up first.

Lucky for her there’s a handsome single father handyman (a familiar Hallmark hybrid) named Ian (Dermot Mulroney) around to nudge her in the right direction. Still, Santa is worried, so he sends intrepid elf Clementine (Bailee Madison) to help her see the value in keeping the inn open – and perhaps to help her reclaim her missing holiday spirit.

Have you ever played a win-lose-or-draw type of game with your family over the holidays? One person draws and the rest have to guess? Never be on Sean’s team. He is a very poor artist. He drew The 12 Days of Christmas and it looked a lot like this, only sloppier, and with some extra random squiggles and lines:

which he later told us were turtle doves but he couldn’t remember how many were in the song or any other thing that was in the song. Anyway. My sister on the opposing team suggested that their pencil was less pointy than ours, punishing them with a handicap. I suggested her team had 3 handicaps, gesturing not very subtly at my my brothers-in-law on either side of her. Har har. And guess what. THEY WON. It was humiliating. Thanks a lot Sean. You’re off the team and potentially out of the family.

Anyway, my point is that at the end of a vigorous and competitive game of win lose or draw, there’s a whole bunch of scrap paper with terrible drawings, and I do believe this script was cobbled together by guessing what those scenarios might have been and then stuffing them into a movie where they don’t necessarily make sense, but who cares? Is anyone actually paying attention? A prescription for a Hallmark movie is never written without an entire bottle of chilled white wine, so you’re already having a good time.

The Christmas Train

Hollywood movie director Max Powers (Danny Glover) is taking a four day long train trip toward Los Angeles along with his trusty assistant Eleanor (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), who he’s been encouraging to finally write a script of her own instead of always doctoring someone else’s, and what better inspiration than an old-timey mode of transportation full of characters just begging to be over-written.

Also on the train: Tom (Dermot Mulroney), a former war correspondent turned lifestyle journalist, a young couple looking to marry on the train despite his parents’ disapproval, a lonely older man, a thief, a chess snob, oh, and a zany woman named Agnes (Joan Cusack) who seems to be in everybody else’s business. Oh and lots of people besides of course, and our two writers mine them for all they’re worth, but wait! The writers are actually of interest themselves. Turns out, they’re former flames. Some have said they were each other’s true loves. And maybe things are sliding back in that direction – or they were until Tom’s fiancée boards the train about halfway through. Drama!!!

Of course, the Hallmark gods are smiling down on the train so the romance WILL BE nurtured, even if a snowstorm has to strand the train on the tracks until true love is confessed.

The Christmas Train is perhaps a smidge more tolerable than the usual schmaltz, so I’m thankful for that, and any reason to see Dermot Mulroney’s dimples is a good one.