Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

Darling Companion - A Dog Movie Without The Dog - Review

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darlingcompanionposter.jpgI haven't seen this many amazing stars in a low budget movie in a very long time, so I had some hope and optimism they were doing it for the fantastic material that would change our lives forever (makes us cry, touch our hearts, yadda yadda yadda).  It turns out I was wrong.  Very wrong. 

Diane Keaton stars as Beth - a woman who risks her own well being to aid a dog she sees along the side of the highway.  He's in bad shape, and faces a horrible ending if left at the pound, so Beth decides to bring him home. 

Of course, her stodgy, stiff, surgeon husband, Joseph (Kevin Kline) isn't all that happy about it (especially when the dog becomes more beloved than him), but the pooch starts to show some amazing ability to bring people together, especially Beth's daughter, Grace (Elisabeth Moss), and the vet helping to bring the dog back to good health, Sam (Jay Ali). 

A year later, Grace and Sam are getting hitched at Beth and Joseph's amazing vacation home in the mountains, when the preoccupied hubby takes the dog for a walk, and their amazing canine makes a run for it.  Now, Grace refuses to leave until she can find her darling companion.

Will they find the dog?

Will everyone involved learn something important along the way and solve the problems in their relationships?

You always want to love a good dog movie, but you can't love Darling Companion because it isn't a good dog movie.  It's barely even a dog movie.   

Co-writer/director Lawrence Kasdan and co-writer Meg Kasdan have given us a dog movie without a dog!  Without any real scenes showing the dog and his interactions with the family, we have no idea about the so-called magical abilities this four-legged buddy has to bring people together (did they just pick up a dog from the pound instead of hiring a trained acting dog?).  It's like the dog makes a couple cameo appearances in Darling Companion, then runs off to his trailer to enjoy a Milk Bone.

Because of this, the audience doesn't get a real sense of the emotion and loss involved in the movie.  Without seeing it, we have to assume this wonder dog has bonded with the people on screen, but he hasn't bonded enough with us to make Darling Companion anywhere near as moving as something like Marley and Me (which wasn't a great movie, but I dare you not to cry at the end).        

Without the emotion, Kasdan & Kasdan give us a movie with very broad comedy, which, at times, is too broad and silly for such a talented group of actors, all of whom could bring the depth and nuance so desperately needed. 

Then, the cast and audience spend the movie wandering the woods looking for the dog and talking and talking and talking some more.  That's not all that exciting, since the script is supposed to bring us closer to these characters and their plights, but doesn't because this search feels as eventful and fruitful as the search for The Fountain of Youth or Bigfoot, while the conversations are about as interesting as those you overhear when riding the train home from work.  

If this movie found its way to the Hallmark channel (and they cut out the most disturbing animated sequence I have ever seen in my life), Darling Companion might be a winner, but not on the big screen.

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1 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Darling Companion is rated PG-13 for some sexual content including references, and language