On Movies: A not so 'Darling Companion'
Let me caution you not to make the erroneous assumption that “Darling Companion,” like the 1960s love song of the same name, is about an enduring human romance. The companion referred to in the title is, like the movie itself, a dog.
I make this negative judgment with some regret because the movie has such a fine non-canine cast, one that includes Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton, Elisabeth Moss, Richard Jenkins and Dianne Wiest. However, despite a director – Lawrence Kasdan – whose pedigree includes “Body Heat” and “The Big Chill,” this comic melodrama is pointless and without wit.
The movie opens with a busy surgeon (Kline) and his lonely wife (Keaton) driving on a freeway when they spot an injured stray dog. At the wife’s tearful insistence, they end up taking the dog to a vet and then, to save the endearingly shaggy mongrel from being euthanized, adopting it and naming it “Freeway.”
A year later, the vet (Jay Ali) marries the couple’s daughter (Moss) and the newlyweds plus half a dozen family members and friends, including Freeway, repair to the doctor’s vacation home in Colorado. Fairly quickly, Freeway spots a deer, takes off in pursuit, and does not return.
From that point, the bulk of the movie is taken up with talented actors and actresses wandering the forests and ridges and byways of the Mountain West calling the name of the lost dog. “Where are you, Freeway?” they croon mournfully, sounding like lost movie stars desperately searching for the quickest way back to Malibu. Trying to help with the search is a beautiful young woman of gypsy heritage who thinks she can see into the future.
The three days spent searching for Freeway lead the various characters to various sorts of discovery. I won’t tell you what happens at the end, but you don’t have to be a gypsy soothsayer to figure that out. Perhaps the movie should have been called, “Freeway Come Home.”
Opens Friday May 11