Darling Companion

 
Prickly couple loses dog, rediscovers love in ho-hum drama.
  • Review Date: April 20, 2012
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's main message is that family is more important than work, even though some people take far too long to realize that. In the end, it's always family that will stick by you during a crisis.

Positive role models

A self-centered surgeon who at first puts his career before his family comes to realize that he's got his priorities backward and vows to be a better husband and father. That said, some of the characters are fairly stereotypically portrayed.

Violence

Some heated arguments. Two men get into a wrestling match.

Sex

Some suggestive discussions and a few scenes that cut away as couples head off for private moments.

Language

Some swearing during tense moments, including "s--t," "ass,' "d--k," "bitch," and "crap."

Consumerism

A wealthy doctor drives a Mercedes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some adult characters drink wine with meals.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the titular partner in Darling Companion is a beloved dog who helps a woman (played by Diane Keaton) fill an emotional vacuum. When the dog gets lost in the woods, her family comes together to track it down, leading to a chance for reconnection. There's some swearing ("s--t," "ass," etc.), social drinking, sex talk, and a few suggestive scenes, but this is primarily a simple drama about rekindling love. While the movie's theme and older characters may not hold much appeal for younger viewers, the film's messages offer an important lesson for anyone who's ever been in a long-term relationship.

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What's the story?

Beth (Diane Keaton) adopts a stray dog who becomes her DARLING COMPANION to help her cope with her growing empty-nest issues now that her daughters have grown up and moved out, especially since her husband, Joseph (Kevin Kline) is far more concerned about his career as a surgeon than his family. But when the dog gets lost in the woods after the wedding of one of their daughters, Joseph gets the chance to adjust his priorities with some help from his sister's (Dianne Wiest) new boyfriend (Richard Jenkins), who may be smarter than he looks.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Darling Companion has a pure message that it delivers in at-times wonderfully simple but other times discouragingly pat story. Yes, it's important that Joseph learns the value of family -- and no, it comes as no surprise that he does. Nor is it a shock that the doctor gets an important lesson in humility as he discovers that sometimes the surgeon needs to be cared for. But most of that's forgivable given the wealth of talent that graces the screen. Kline and Keaton, both consummate professionals, have an authentic (if unsurprising) moment of realization about the state of their marriage that could make even the steeliest of hearts crack. And Wiest and Jenkins steal the show as a couple that appears, at first, to be hapless and troubled but proves to be the best companions of all.

But unfortunately there are issues that prevent Darling Companion from being, well, darling. Let's start with the quasi-psychic caretaker who helps track down the dog. That she's of Roma descent isn't just annoyingly stereotypical but also superfluous. Her character seems tagged on for added ... what? It's never clear. There's always a place for the mystical, but plotlines that veer toward it should be done well. As it stands, that element in particular makes the film seem more like a TV movie of the week than a feature film with A-list stars.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about stereotypes. Would you consider Darling Companion's characters stereotypical? Why do filmmakers fall back on using common character types?

  • How does Darling Companion compare to other dramas about aging couples? Can you think of any other films about a husband who realizes that he's neglected his wife?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 20, 2012
DVD release date:August 28, 2012
Cast:Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins
Director:Lawrence Kasdan
Studio:Sony Pictures Classics
Genre:Drama
Topics:Cats, dogs, and mice, Wild animals
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sexual content including references, and language

This review of Darling Companion was written by

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  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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