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Review: Love, Guaranteed (2020)

Mediocrity, Guaranteed.

The last time I watched a Netflix romantic-comedy that starred a former cast member of New Girl (2011 – 2018), I endured the truly horrific Desperados (2020). Check out my review for that movie, here. So, when I saw that Damon Wayans Jr. was partnering up with the streaming service, I was nervous but still willing to take a chance on Love, Guaranteed (2020). I’m so such a devoted fan of TV that I’ll pretty much watch anything that stars an actor from one of my favourite TV shows. Though Love, Guaranteed is undeniably much more competent and entertaining than Desperados, like most Netflix rom-coms, it’s still formulaic, bland, and clichéd beyond belief. That being said, it’s still a harmless watch that’s just sweet and pleasant enough to spend an afternoon watching. Well, half an afternoon. It’s a quick hour and a half which, by the way, is my ideal runtime for a movie.

Credit: / Netflix

Love, Guaranteed tells the story of Susan Whitaker, a hardworking attorney who’s on the verge of losing her law firm. To save her practice, she takes on Nick Evans, a client who wants to sue a dating website that promises its users will find love. As Susan builds a strong case, she also begins to fall in love with her handsome, charming client.

So, this movie was directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the same man who’s directed such movies as, Simon Birch (1998), Daredevil (2003), Ghost Rider (2007), and When in Rome (2010). Wow. Given that…versatile…resume, I truly had no idea what to expect from Love, Guaranteed. But as soon as Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” started playing over the opening credits, I had a feeling that I was in for a cute, cheesy, breezy, 90 minutes that I was going to moderately enjoy. And I more or less did. There are no surprises or uncharted territory explored in Love, Guaranteed. It’s exactly as advertised.. From the opening scene, you know exactly where the movie is going to go, what tropes it’s going to play on, and what twists it’s going to take. Although I knew from the get what was going to happen, I actually still had fun with Love, Guaranteed. Look, I’m always down for a rom-com. Especially one that sounds like the premise of a Hallmark movie, or like it should have been released around the millennium when internet dating was new and exciting. Netflix may not have a stellar track record when it comes to rom-coms, but God bless them for trying. Netflix always seems to have the pieces to make a solid movie, but never the follow-through or commitment to make them work together and make something worthwhile. 

My frustration with Netflix is well-documented on this blog, but as much as I’m consistently disappointed in their content, I actually don’t mind their movies when they legitimately try to deliver an enjoyable, quality movie. When they actually put effort into their work, I appreciate that and often go, “hey, that wasn’t the best, but they really tried and I didn’t find it insufferable.” That’s an excellent way of summing up my time watching Love, Guaranteed. It’s when Netflix churns out boring, mindless, terrible movies like, Coffee & Kareem (2020) or Dangerous Lies (2020) that I can’t stand and am severely more critical of. By the way, check out my reviews for those movies, here and here.

Love, Guaranteed is straightforward and low-stakes. It’s extremely garden-variety. Nothing about this movie stands out or is memorable in any way. The dialogue and the comedy are dated and lacklustre, and unfortunately, I have to say that this romantic-comedy made me neither swoon nor laugh. Like, at all. There was a moment or two where a smile tugged at the corner of my mouth, but that’s about it. Anything that could have been even remotely fun or interesting either falls flat on its face or is quickly and unremarkably glossed over. Some scenes were even just pointless. It didn’t even deliver compelling or silly legal scenes à la Legally Blonde (2001). In fact, I have no way of proving this, but something tells me that not a single lawyer was actually consulted during the production of this movie. Just a guess.

Rachael Leigh Cook plays Susan and in the role, is perfectly sweet, beautiful, and angelic. However, I just don’t get much personality from her. When you think of great rom-coms like, Moonstruck (1987), Pretty Woman (1990), and When Harry Met Sally… (1989) – check out my reviews for those last two, here and here – the female lead is always, always, super memorable. She’s either someone you can easily relate to, or is such a character, that everything she does is endearing. The female love interest is what really sells a rom-com. Susan is perfectly lovely but she’s so vanilla. She has almost no personality so it’s hard to be invested in her love story. Or even believe it. Like, just because she’s nice, pretty, and down to earth, we’re expected to believe Nick can’t help but fall in love with her. Oh, and she’s down to earth because she orders a burger, doesn’t understand texting lingo, and drives a crappy car. Very mundane.

I also could have used much more from Lisa Durupt and Sean Amsing, who play Denise and Roberto, Susan’s co-workers. They’re meant to be the movie’s comedic relief but instead of doing anything remotely funny, they just exchange catty one-liners with each other, try to set up Susan with Nick, and bumble about. They feel like poor imitations of Jack and Karen from Will & Grace (1998 – 2020). Every character has the potential to stand out and be entertaining, but the writing is so poor and the performances are so dull, that energy-wise, the whole thing feels like a 4/10. Like Damon Wayans Jr. as Nick. He’s super attractive, charming as hell, and when given the opportunity, wildly hilarious. He should be in more mainstream, big budget rom-coms. He’s so talented and does a solid job in this movie, but he feels neutered. Let him be all that he can be! By the way, Heather Graham seems to be popping up all over Netflix these days. Is she their new favourite? Is she the new Noah Centineo?

You could very easily sip a cup of tea, get cozy on the couch, half watch Love, Guaranteed, and then gently drift off to sleep as a montage of idyllic Fall activities and vibes pads the movie’s runtime. Seriously. Quaint coffee shops, chic coats, groves of trees filled with red, orange, and yellow leaves…I LOVE Fall and this movie’s greatest success is getting me excited for the season. Oh! When Susan, single, looks out the  rain-soaked window of her cute, small Seattle apartment, while eating Chinese leftovers and drinking wine? ME AF. 

There are undoubtedly far worse Netflix originals to watch than Love, Guaranteed. Though it’s not the most interesting or unique romantic rom-com, there’s nothing glaringly awful about it that would stop me from recommending it. It’s like the movie equivalent of a participation medal. Not the best, not the worst, but hey, it showed up and did its best. 

Have you seen Love, Guaranteed? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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