Image Courtesy of Lesott.com
By Caroline Morris
Just in time for a long Labor Day weekend when many of us will be stuck at home distancing instead of hitting the beach, Netflix dropped its new rom-com Love, Guaranteed to keep us entertained.
Love, Guaranteed stars Damon Wayans Jr., the actor who played Coach on New Girl , as the male lead Nick Evans. Playing alongside Wayans is actress Rachael Leigh Cook as his love interest Susan Whitaker. Cook is all too familiar with the rom-com scene as she played Laney Boggs in the 1999 film She’s All That.
The story follows Susan, an intelligent and philanthropic civil litigator with a penchant for helping the little guy at the expense of her purse. After seeing her win a case for her pro-bono client Jerome, an elderly man hit by a Seattle city bus while on an electric scooter, the audience learns that despite Susan’s prowess as a lawyer, her heart is causing her law firm Whitaker & Associates to flounder due to lack of funds, as well as a bevy of personal issues that always fall to the bottom of the list. Enter Nick, whom Susan first encounters in a classic meet-cute at a coffee cart, attempting to shut down his attempts at conversation only to find out that he is her first appointment of the day.
Nick has been on 1,000 dates– literally. Or, at least, he’s getting there. At date 986 at the start of the movie, Nick comes to Susan to file a claim against the online dating service Love, Guaranteed, which guarantees love will be found through their site within 1,000 dates. Susan, despite misgivings about Nick’s character as a serial dater and what appears to be a “gotcha” lawsuit, takes the case to keep her business afloat.
From there we get to watch the two, somewhat predictably, fall in love. Susan allows her brusque and busy exterior to slide and Nick’s strange mix of awkwardness and arrogance falls away as his genuine desire to find love is revealed. Though the movie is not breaking new ground in terms of plot or character archetypes, viewers will still become invested in the characters’ happy endings while chuckling along the way.
Something viewers often find while watching romantic comedies is that the comedy of it all often falls short, but Love, Guaranteed hit its mark. Of course not every joke in a movie will land, but the writers incorporated some funny moments, and the actors delivered. Susan’s coworkers Denise and Roberto often act as comedic relief as a duo, with quick one-liners and an intra-office friendship intertwined with great chemistry.
One particular joke that made me laugh aloud was from a scene with Susan’s sister, who goes into labor and tells her frantic husband that if they don’t leave now they’re “naming the baby after the freeway she’s born on.” In a moment that could be missed if you’re not listening closely, amidst the hubbub the husband replies, “Oh, I-90 is a terrible name.” Overall, Netflix did a solid job making sure the comedy of a rom-com didn’t get left behind as it often is.
The romance was also well executed. Although it was not shocking that the characters fell in love or that there were some cliches, there is an appreciation for the characters slow yet gradual love, instead of an instantaneous love as some romances are written. Nick and Susan actually developed a relationship with both vulnerability and rapport, joking with each other while also working on the case and spending time together. Running gags between them were both funny and sweet. There was a moment when a first big romantic kiss could’ve been placed that took an alternative route and made their connection more significant than the former cliche option would have.
In the end, this movie was enjoyable to watch, as it appears many others agree as it holds its place in Netflix’s Top 10. Though it was not a cinematic masterpiece and at times cheesy, Love, Guaranteed was unexpectedly intentional in both its written and visual storytelling. There are parallels in specific shots and dialogue throughout the movie that bookend it subtly, mirroring the beginning and the end with changes in tone and in the characters. Little details like graphics appearing with the sound of a text “woosh” and moving camera shots that were unique and visually engaging show the effort that was put into crafting a movie, not just creating a cash-grab 90 minutes.
If you’re in the mood for a feel good movie that’ll give you a few good laughs and have you invested in the characters so much that your eyes are glued to the screen at the end despite some predictability, Love, Guaranteed is guaranteed to satisfy (language of guarantee not legally binding)!