Any 'dog' movie has severe, dramatic limitations, no matter how refined a script or cast. Still, Lawrence Kasdan knew there was something to be mined from the idea that pets reveal a lot about their owners. Darling Companion distances itself from Air Bud or Beethoven's 4th and steers closer to a hybrid of Marley & Me meets a thirty-fifth high school reunion. Requisite hokeyness aside, this mutt-centered odyssey is entertaining and even worthwhile.
Beth Winter (Diane Keaton) is watching her nest become emptier by the day. Her husband Joseph (Kevin Kline) is more occupied with his work as a spine surgeon than any spousal or familial concern. Their marriage is no Kramer vs. Kramer but it's entered a stage of dreary detachment. Beth and her youngest daughter, Grace (Elisabeth Moss), discover a stray dog while driving and appropriately name it Freeway.
Joseph's not that thrilled about Freeway, but Grace is happy about the dog's new vet, Sam (Jay Ali). Grace and Sam get married and the family goes up to their mountain home for the wedding. After the new couple departs for their honeymoon, Joseph—preoccupied with business on his iPhone—loses Freeway. His sister, her son and her new boyfriend (Dianne Wiest, Mark Duplass and Richard Jenkins) are enlisted to help search for Freeway and, by extension, realign with their love for each other. The mystical gypsy and caretaker, Carmen (Ayelet Zurer), also assists in the journey with her questionable visions and New Age wisdom.
Companion alternates between being silly and self-aware and almost too corny to put up with. There's enough genuine laughter and realism to cash in when the film hits cheesier territory. It's a matter of deposit and withdrawal, the film in a mambo with sentimentalized ...