After watching Love, Guaranteed and penning its very quick and yet informative review on Letterboxd I decided to dive deeper. Not just because this movie deserves a deeper, more in depth review but because I really wanted to get all my frustration out. Netflix rom-coms seem to be the perfect victims for this need to rant. They are too cheesy and too unaware of the cringe they produce. Or is it exactly what people want?! Is Love, Guaranteed the kind of movie a rom-com addict craves?
It’s no secret I grew up on rom-coms. I loved the adult versions, I loved the teen versions, you name it. If it is a movie in a rom-com genre from the 90’s/00’s I’ve most likely seen it and loved it. But as years went by, there was suddenly a shift. Romantic comedies started to feel uncomfortable and strange. It felt like the rom-com cheese was left out in the sun and it got bad. And now as more years have passed, I feel like the genre is still stuck while everyone else has moved on.
For me it seems there are two types of rom-coms nowadays, the romantic kind and then the comedy kind. The latter usually reverts to physical comedy and bodily harm which is not for me. Love, Guaranteed goes for the romance and tries to connect with the online dating community. I think, honestly, I have no idea what this movie is trying to say other than that if you go on a thousand dates you get a hot lawyer? Very realistic.
The problem Love, Guaranteed faces is the unbelievability of it all. A thousand dates and no woman was normal enough to justify a second date? The movie brings up a few bad examples, like one woman brought her parents, okay, that’s a cancellation on the second date. But a thousand dates?! Damon Wayans Jr portrays a pretty decent guy too, so it’s not like he can be the one that’s messing up these dates. His character is shown to be funny, considerate, sweet, like perfect rom-com guy, and a thousand women didn’t get to a second date with him? And even if he was just out there to sue the company, that just means he was using these women just to scratch off another number. So not so sweet now after all.
Anyway, that’s beside the point. The point is that Love, Guaranteed shows how the genre of rom-com is stuck in its own web. The movies try to find some elaborate way to bring the main characters together. A lawsuit. Switching lives with a lookalike. Meeting the prince. All of these things might have worked way back when but I think people in general are looking for something more down to Earth. Yes, online dating is a real part of the dating scene now but a hot single lawyer you haven’t kissed yet and suddenly you are confessing love in a court room? Honey, that is way too over the top.
As an example of change: the horror genre has reinvented itself in recent years and dived more into psychological horror. I love that! As a person who used to dislike horror, I’m now fascinated by it. Rom-coms should take note and reinvent the genre a bit. Because as much as I love the obvious set up, the quirky hot SINGLE lawyer and the charismatic SINGLE male hunk combo, it’s getting a bit repetitive. Oh, and the quirky assistants!? Give me a break. I’m not saying it’s completely off the table but at least try to make it seem more… realistic.
Maybe I’m just bitter and lonely but I feel like a really good rom-com could melt my heart a little. Netflix has come close to it but this one was just a complete miss. Wayans Jr. was great though but it’s because he has a good screen presence and doesn’t have to try very hard. The script didn’t give him much to play with and the movie opens with a scene that tries to make his character unlikable. Which is how the first half of the movie tries to portray him, as this asshole who is out for money. Sadly Wayans Jr. is too charismatic to ever feel like a bad guy so the hate to love trope Love, Guaranteed tries to set up fails miserably.
And yes, the failure all comes down to the script. Which is weak and doesn’t introduce anything new. Maybe rom-coms should dip into the books more? There are plentiful of romance novels that have been doing the hate to love genre well. There’s even fake relationships that could work wonders on screen. I know there’s some on the way but if Netflix wants to make these Hallmark type movies, wouldn’t it be easier to just adapt books? YA genre is very up and coming and I can see rom-coms doing the same but not Wattpad. God, please not Wattpad… again.4