I was all set to love “Darling Companion.” It stars a ton of my favorite actors and is written/directed by a man who had a hand in such classics as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Big Chill.”
But I should have looked at Lawrence Kasden’s IMDB entry just a tad longer. His last movie was 2003’s “Dreamcatcher” which was, respectfully, a complete and utter disaster.
With a mediocre foundation, there is only so much that can be elevated. In “Darling Companion,” a group of friends works together to find a missing dog after a wedding. Of course, it’s not really about the dog but having people learn more about each other. Shifting the focus from the search to the searchers could make for great drama, but there isn’t a compelling character or the feel of any dramatic stakes.
Diane Keaton’s Beth thinks that her husband doesn’t give her enough focus anymore. This is evident because it’s said through dialogue several times throughout the movie. Kevin Kline’s Joseph isn’t a terrible husband, but being a surgeon requires a lot of attention — attention that isn’t being geared toward his family.
The two of them are joined by a set of characters played by Richard Jenkins, Dianne Wiest, Mark Duplass, Ayelet Zurer and, briefly, Elisabeth Moss. All of their side adventures while trying to find the dog aren’t funny or insightful. Those are just scenes devoted to wondering why such talented actors aren’t doing anything worthy of their talents.
There is a point in the movie when the characters aren’t dynamic enough to guide the movie themselves, so the plot calls upon Zurer to be a gypsy child. For half of the movie, her character guides them across the town by having visions and clues about where the dog could be. When the movie needs a shakeup, it goes into a contrived place where it becomes right to roll your eyes alongside Kline.
I would like nothing more to watch a light movie starring these actors in a beautiful setting, but “Darling Companion” loses the one thing it needs most: something worth searching for.