In Darling Companion, Lawrence Kasdan delivers boomer angst and narcissism, distilled into a saline solution to better deliver treacle directly to the bloodstream. Kasdan has long been the voice of his generation, the whiny, self-obsessed voice that elevated the worries of his peers into navel-gazing classics like The Big Chill and Grand Canyon and, with the script for The Empire Strikes Back, proved you could still be neurotic at hyper-speed. This time he offers up a trifle of middle-aged date night distraction, that still manages to broach, aging, relationship malaise, parenting, mortality and the joys and sorrows of pet ownership. The moral, that dogs are receptacles for all the excess of love that our fellow humans are too stubborn to take for themselves, isn’t enough to hang a feature around — but the script, by Kasdan and his wife Meg, tries anyway. It is not earth-shattering material, but if you’ve been clamoring to see Oscar-caliber actors stumbling around in the woods kvetching about their lives and blowing on dog whistles for 45 minutes, then you’ve come to the right place.
Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline stay within their respective wheelhouses as married bores Beth and Joseph Winter: she a bubbly neurotic and he an arrogant fussbudget surgeon. On a return trip from the airport, high-strung Beth rescues a wounded mutt from the side of the road, and inventively dubs him “Freeway,” a name we will hear repeated ad infinitum.
The hunky vet amazingly makes house calls, though mostly to hit on the Winter’s fetching daughter (Elizabeth Moss), and shortly there is a wedding in a picturesque Rockies resort town, where Joseph promptly loses the dog in the woods. This throws everyone into a tizzy, including Dianne Wiest as Beth’s flighty sister, and Richard Jenkins as her clownish new boyfriend.
Mark Duplass just shrugs his shoulders as Beth’s nephew and Joseph’s fellow doctor, though he does have an improbable romance with a sensual gypsy woman (Ayelet Zurer), who dispenses romance advice and psychic visions like an amusement park attraction.
This is a “feel good” movie, which is the sort of thing that usually makes film critics feel miserable, though it’s entirely possible that you may enjoy it for its minor charms.