John Cusack Checks Out Dating Web Sites

Perhaps the only reason to go on blind dates is to supply yourself with comic fodder to entertain your married friends.

Diane Lane and John Cusack, the stars of "Must Love Dogs," are just hoping their new film is as funny as real life, when it comes to the travails of online courtship.

"I was amazed at how intense it is," says a 39-and-single Cusack, who says he lurked in chat rooms and on dating Web sites to get into his character. In the movie, Cusack plays Jake, a recently divorced, hopelessly romantic boat builder, who wallows in sorrow with multiple viewings of "Dr. Zhivago."

In real life, Cusack has courted the likes of Minnie Driver and Neve Campbell, but he's never married.

"I don't have any dating advice, except that endurance is important," he says.

"Must Love Dogs," which opens Friday, kicks off with Lane's character, a preschool teacher named Sarah, facing an intervention from concerned friends and family. She's not on drugs or anorexic. But she did recently turn 40, and they say it's time to put her divorce behind her.

"Mate shopping?" she asks, when her sister, played by Elizabeth Perkins, proposes online dating.

"It's kind of like going online to buy a pair of pants," Perkins says, "except there's going to be a guy in them."

Thus, her odyssey of first dates begins, and she quickly writes off a slew of repulsive Romeos as "the arm wrestler," "the weeper," "the creepy guy with handcuffs" and another gentleman caller who brings his pouting 14-year-old daughter on the first date.

Humiliation knows no bounds when Lane arrives at a café to meet the guy who said online that he'd be waiting with a yellow rose. He sounded too good to be true, but there he was. Unfortunately, the guy turned out to be her own father, Christopher Plummer, a widower brimming with old-world charm and Yeats quotes to seduce a bevy of beauties he's met online.

"The fact is, there are more women looking for love than there are available men," says Lane. "It's a story people can relate to."

Like her character, Lane crossed the big four-O line in January. But she could share her birthday with Josh Brolin, whom she married last year, and her 11-year-old daughter, Eleanor, from her first marriage.

Like any romantic comedy, you don't have to be Einstein to predict where "Must Love Dogs" is heading. But even when the stars and their pooches meet, they're so nervous, so battle scarred, and so suspicious, they're more than justified in asking each other whether they're really even dog owners.

"I really just felt right doing a movie about these characters," Cusack says. "Everybody approached it with a lot of love, so it was really a wonderful time."

As far as doing a little pre-date research, Cusack thinks that's not a bad idea. He says he even checks himself out online.

"I do that Google thing, where you Google your own name," he says. "Then I find out what the press is saying."

Hey, John, if you happen to be checking yourself out right now, you were great in "High Fidelity" and if you do a "Must Love Dogs" sequel, don't forget to check out's "Hooking Up" series for ideas.