Netflix’s Love, Guaranteed REVIEW – Pleasantries With No Spark

If you want to see two absolutely earnest, do-gooder people fall in love, this is the film for you. It's not much fun though.

Another day, another generic romantic comedy from Netflix. I really wanted to like this one. After all, it has Rachael Leigh Cook, who was the starlet in teen movies I watched growing up. She was Laney Boggs in She’s All That, the titular Josie of Josie of Josie and the Pussycats – to go from all that to Susan is just a travesty. She tries very hard here, and is as earnest as ever as do-gooder lawyer Susan. Susan does so much pro bono that her practice is on the verge of collapse, but somehow she can furnish the firm with Apple computers. Maybe sell the whole lot so you can pay your staff, Susan.

Because she is in desperate straits, she takes on Nick’s (Damon Wayans Jr.) case, which involves him suing online dating site Love, Guaranteed (and there’s the title) for false advertising. Since the fine print mentions that individuals should be able to find their match by a thousand dates, Nick sets out to accomplish that to prove that this is simply not feasible – how dare they try to guarantee love when he has had his heart broken? So this man goes on a thousand dates for about two years, arranging breakfast, lunch and dinner dates with expedient efficiency. You start to wonder if he’s a bit off his rocker, which Susan also suspects as she starts digging into all of these past dates. But no, he’s quite normal, and also a do-gooder, just like Susan. What a pair.

Both Cook and Wayans are credibly charming, but the script doesn’t give them enough to work with. The comedy stretches from sometimes bearable to sometimes cringey, and the romance is so devoid of simmer it’s not even on the stove. I mean, we have Susan traipsing about the office like a loon after a forehead kiss from a previous date with Nick – that’s a bit much. Her staff, played by Sean Amsing and Lisa Durupt, are so unbelievably kooky that this law practice simply loses all credibility. Heather Graham is another kooky character, as the quote spewing, spiritual hippie CEO. She is as wasted here as she was in Desperados; Netflix must be giving her some serious coin to get her to keep playing these exactly similar roles.

The main obstacle that prevents their coupling isn’t that much of an obstacle, which is perhaps the biggest problem with this film. We find out that Susan and Nick can’t be together because that would mean they lose the case, but this reason just doesn’t offer enough stakes. Even though I know that the leads will end up together in a rom-com, I need to truly believe in the obstacle, and its ability to cease all possibility of love between the two. In Sleepless in Seattle, you find yourself breathless in anticipation as you wonder if Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks’ characters will be able to meet at the top of the Empire State building. For While You Were Sleeping, there is the question of whether Jack (Bill Pullman) and his family would be able to get over Lucy’s (Sandra Bullock) misrepresentation of herself.

The obstacle must be substantial so that we can properly cheer when the couple do overcome it and get together. I knew he was going to throw the case for her, because just like he says, love is worth much more than winning this case. I mean, he’s rich so he doesn’t actually need the money, the case for him was just to prove a point, a point that doesn’t exist anymore, since he has her.

I know there are no guarantees in love, but come on, at least guarantee me a good movie.

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Love, Guaranteed is the vanilla ice cream of rom-coms; suitable enough for a hot day, but makes you wish you had gotten chocolate instead. In other words, there are better rom-coms out there that is worth the time and investment.