If men are from Mars, this negligible movie will never make it to Martian multiplexes. Must Love Dogs is an unadulterated chick flick, from its female-heavy soundtrack to its references to watching Beaches when feeling low. Not that there's anything wrong with chick flicks, but, minus its high-caliber cast (Christopher Plummer and Stockard Channing play supporting roles), this trite tale depicting the bumpy coming together of two skittish, newly single folk (Lane and Cusack), both near 40, belongs on TV's Lifetime channel.
Lane, a preschool teacher, and Cusack, who builds boats, meet after Lane's pushy older sister (Perkins) posts an online personal ad for her sib. Although clearly well matched, the two endure missed signals and mix-ups to fill time until the predictable ending clinch. What Dogs does have going for it is the incandescent Lane, who hits just the right notes as a woman still hoping for the best even in disastrous situations. Watch her try to salvage a calamitous date after a depressed dinner companion breaks into sobs. Ever the schoolteacher, she starts singing, "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands." (PG-13)