Lookitdapuppy! It would be a stone-cold soul indeed that wouldn’t be moved by the sight of the mixed-breed canine Freeway, who sets the skeletal plot of Lawrence Kasdan’s trivial comedy in motion. He’s discovered on the side of an interstate by neurotic housewife Beth Winter (Diane Keaton) and quickly assimilated into the life of his rescuer and her workaholic hubby, Joseph (Kevin Kline). What a doting, devoted mutt he turns out to be! Why, he even plays pleading-eyed matchmaker for Beth’s single daughter, Grace (Elisabeth Moss), and a hunky veterinarian, which occasions a pop-ditty-scored montage that went out of style when The Naked Gun was in first run.
Suddenly, it’s a year later and we’re off to Grace’s wedding in the mountains, where Freeway goes missing. It’s then that Kasdan’s film reveals itself as a pooch-whisperer gloss on The Big Chill: The maritally discontented Beth and Joseph—along with a few lightly fucked-up relatives, played by Richard Jenkins, Dianne Wiest and Mark Duplass—search for the beast without in order to quell the respective beasts within. They’re aided in their bourgie vision quest by a part-Romany woman who communes with the animals, as well as a grumpy sheriff with kidney stones (so this is what it’s come to, Sam Shepard?). The story’s treacly all-souls-in-alignment outcome is never in doubt, but as Kasdan dogs go, this is light-years better than Dreamcatcher.
Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich