Premise: To save her small law firm, earnest lawyer Susan takes a high-paying case from Nick, a charming new client who wants to sue a dating website that guarantees love. But as the case heats up, so do Susan and Nick’s feelings for each other.
The romantic comedy phase of Netflix’s plans for world domination continues with the release of Love, Guaranteed, a legal backdropped meet-cute between hard working lawyer Susan (Rachael Leigh Cook) and serial dater/client Nick (Damon Wayans Jr). The movie is about as formulaic as they come in the romcom genre. Sparks fly between two unlikely people, they experience a hardship, they each confide in eccentric supporting characters, and well, you know the rest. However, that’s not to say Love, Guaranteed is all that bad. On the contrary, it’s a pleasantly sweet distraction from the world and thankfully doesn’t demand much commitment from the viewer. Though it misses a couple of swings along the way, it still delivers that feel-good warmth that is at the very heart of the romantic comedy genre.
Susan is your quintessential workaholic single woman who’s so focused on her quaint law firm that she forgot to develop social or dating skills. It’s a trope right out of 90s sitcoms and romantic comedies, but Rachael Leigh Cook brings an earnestness to the role that helps makes it a bit more palatable. The law firm itself is in dire straits until Nick arrives seeking counsel. Nick is the more interesting of the pair. The film paints him as a potential opportunist seeking a cash settlement from a large company by exploiting a loophole in the language in their fine print. His motives aren’t immediately clear, but his charm is on full display in this introduction as his banter hints at underlying pain.
The case he brings to Susan’s firm is simple. He has used the “Love, Guaranteed” online dating service through nearly 1,000 dates. None of the dates have led to love and he wants to sue on the grounds that the eponymous guarantee was not fulfilled. In his initial meeting with Susan, Nick posits that “Love, Guaranteed is profiting off the lonely souls of the world”, calling their actions “a reckless endangerment of the human heart.” It’s said with a wry sense of humor and met with incredulity by Susan. But the sentiment behind this cynical view of online dating is something that would have been worth exploring much more fully in the movie. Unfortunately, this thread is left largely by the wayside in favor of the conventional meet-cute story.
For a brief spell, Love, Guaranteed puts Susan on the online dating circuit. She’s never done online dating and her associates set up her profile under the guise of “research” for the case. It’s a harmless subplot that helps develop Susan’s naiveté toward dating culture while also organically connecting her to Nick’s experiences with online dating. Since Nick has kept copious records of all 980+ dates, Susan is able to connect her own experiences with his abnormally detailed history. This is all communicated in an all too brief montage that was ultimately enjoyable but really left me wanting more.
That initial air of mystery surrounding Nick’s motivations from the beginning of the film is intriguing enough, but ultimately plays out with few surprises. Despite this somewhat unexciting arc of the character, Damon Wayans Jr plays Nick with a ton of charm that will make you feel comfortable rooting for him. It also makes it easy to forget the potential moral dilemma with the character. This is acceptable since the movie doesn’t do anything substantial with the question of his motivations for the lawsuit. Instead, the film rests on the chemistry of its leads and seems more interested in its inherent sweetness than in bucking any genre conventions; nor commenting on romantic relationships or online dating culture in a substantial way.
And that’s perfectly fine.
Love, Guaranteed is the latest in Netflix’s stream of romantic comedy releases, but it isn’t as fun and silly as others, like Always Be My Maybe. And though it has its charms, the chemistry between the leads doesn’t hold a candle to the electricity of Set It Up‘s pairing. However, on its own merit as a romantic comedy, Love, Guaranteed exists and embraces the quintessential qualities of the genre. It takes its cues from the tried and true romcom playbook but does so with a goal in mind. The end result is romcom comfort food. Plain and simple. It’s an entry in a feel-good genre that doesn’t set out to tribute, reinvent, or satirize what came before it. Instead, it simply offers a 90 minute excursion into a story that will hold your interest and provide a warm escape from your own reality.
Love, Guaranteed doesn’t feel as tepid as you might expect from its formulaic approach. The film has a fair amount of charm that makes for a sweet and inoffensive way to spend 90 minutes headlined by two pleasant actors with plenty of chemistry. To that end, Love, Guaranteed serves a distinct purpose and sometimes that’s all we need in the art we consume.
Love, Guaranteed is currently available to stream on Netflix
About the Writer: Matt Hurt is the creator of ObsessiveViewer.com. He also created, hosts, and produces The Obsessive Viewer, Anthology, and Tower Junkies podcasts. He is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association and lives in Indianapolis with his cat Pizza Roll.