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MUST LOVE DOGS

Mate Shopping
Not long content with their advisory status on Sarah's love life, sisters Carol and Christine soon take things a giant step further. They open an account in Sarah's name on perfectmatch.com, along with a provocative profile and her high school graduation photo – complete with cap and gown. (In their defense, it was the only photo they could find that didn't include the ex-husband.)

When asked how she would react if someone did the same thing to her, Jennifer Todd lets out an unequivocal "Horrifying!,” before admitting that she and Suzanne actually did post a friend's profile on an Internet dating website, although stressing, "the difference was that we told her what we were doing. Actually, in this day and age it's not as crazy as it seems.” 

Adds Suzanne, "it may seem unromantic at first but not so if you find the right person and it works out. When you look at the number of people who have met and married people via the Internet you can see it as long-term, if not short-term, romantic.”

As part of his preparation for the project, Goldberg consulted renowned relationship strategist Susan Page, author of the book If I'm So Wonderful Why Am I Still Single?, for a realistic picture of what the newly single can expect. "Susan draws a comparison between people looking for love in America today and people who were looking for jobs during the Great Depression,” he says. "The traditional ways of meeting people have broken down. There isn't the community that used to exist. Instead, there's this whole new sense of community on the Internet but it's still an alien world to many of us. It's like there's a big dance going on and Sarah doesn't know the steps.” 

The filmmakers agreed that any story depicting the current dating world would have to involve the Internet. "It's just become so pervasive,” says Goldberg, who expanded upon that element for the screen version of Must Love Dogs, whereas the heroine in Cook's novel relied upon the newspaper for her personal ad interaction.  "Internet dating is fascinating in so many ways,” says Suzanne Todd. "You can narrow your choices as to age, height, interests, religious preferences – almost anything. But you never know whether or not you'll have that special chemistry with someone just because they looked good on paper.”

Additionally, Goldberg notes, "the potential for artifice is high in the cyber realm,” although adding that pretense has eternally been intertwined with romance, so in the larger sense nothing has really changed. Frauds have always been frauds and will always be; likewise, diamonds in the rough are always waiting to be discovered. Be it via newspaper, high-speed computer or a friendly set-up through your aunt's dentist's neighbor's cousin, the rules, rewards and potential pitfalls for those seeking a love match are the same today as they were when Grandma debuted at the Church social. Vigilance counts. As does a sense of humor. 

Elizabeth Perkins (The Flintstones, Cats & Dogs, Finding Nemo), who stars as Carol, outlines a typical nightmare situation: "There you are online chatting with a guy who says he's six-foot two, dark hair, blue eyes and in great shape. Then, when you walk into the coffee shop to meet him you think you got the address wrong because there's no one in the room who even remotely resembles that description. That would be fun, wouldn't it?”

Must Love Dogs takes this concept to its outrageous but, frighteningly enough, still plausible extreme, in a scene that would make any father, daughter or family therapist squirm. Sarah, still new to the process, answers an ad posted by a man who presents himself as "a young 50,” only to find, when she arrives at the appointed alfresco café, that she has responded to her own 71-year-old father's ad. Whereupon, dear old Dad proclaims his innocence, insisting that "in the bottom of his soul” he i

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