Grae's Rating:


My dogs were barking to leave the theater.

If you want to watch a whole bunch of L.L. Bean-clad upper middle class folks wander through the woods yelling, then this is the picture for you. Oh, and if you love dogs and don't mind not being able to see any for most of the film, this may distract you enough so you don't notice all the yelling. Other than that, I can't fully recommend it to anyone, outside of its wonderful cast and pretty autumn trees.

I don't have a life resembling any of these characters. Joseph (Kevin Kline) and his nephew (Mark Duplass) are doctors, and Joseph's wife Beth (Diane Keaton) doesn't seem to have anything better to do than be irritated with him. But ideally, shouldn't movies contain some kind of equalizing factor that makes it speak to more people than just the ones represented onscreen? I don't know how to fly a plane or punch aliens but I liked Independence Day. Anyway, I suppose that's why Beth rescues a dog off the side of the freeway and he becomes the center of her life, despite Joseph's protests--the script is trying to be relatable. So at this point we've hooked the dog lovers. But what about interesting character arcs or humanity that keep me invested in a story? They forgot that part.

They name the dog Freeway because guess where they found him. Then, the heartless and cruel husband loses Freeway but doesn't think it's a big deal, even though they're at their Colorado cabin and a stone's throw from any number of dog-eating wildlife. The search begins, that causes all of them to fight, air their grievances, and learn a little bit about each other and themselves. All while hiking.

Watching an abundance of Amazing Race has taught me that the best way to really get to know a person or work out long-standing issues is to go through some kind of harrowing event with them. So while this dog is lost, Beth and Joseph have to face their frustrating marriage, everyone has to get comfortable with Beth's sister (Dianne Wiest) and her new doofus of a boyfriend (Richard Jenkins), and everyone gets comfortable with the idea of gypsies' psychic powers. At the end of the film, it just seems like everyone has given up instead of actually learning something. I mirrored that feeling completely.


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