Ask anyone who is active on a dating app, and they’ll share a plethora of horror stories.
From the ugly rear of ghosting to the inexcusable quirks of the date who looked much better on paper, searching for love in a swipe-fest is no mean feat.
Such anecdotes make these apps look like little more than contraptions that dole out misadventures.
And yet, there are enough stories of people finding love through dating apps to justify their algorithmic matchmaking.
It’s what Love, Guaranteed deep-dives into, quite literally.
Nick Evans, a former baseball player and current physical therapist at a rehab centre – played by Damon Wayans Jr. – wants to sue the app Love, Guaranteed for its false claims of guaranteed love.
He’s read the fine print which requires him to go on a thousand dates before filing a lawsuit, and when he reaches 986 in his tally, he approaches Susan Whitaker, an attorney played by Rachel Leigh Cook to take up the case.
Her boutique law firm is barely floating, not surprising considering how much pro-bono work she does.
On the face of it, Love, Guaranteed has all the elements of a typical, clichéd rom-com.
There’s Jerome, the elderly gentleman Nick can have a heart-to-heart with and who’s also the original connecting thread between Nick and Susan.
There’s a concerned, pregnant sister living next door to act as a sounding board for Susan’s haywire emotions.
There are office employees who are rooting for the relationship before the protagonists even bat an eyelid.
Even so, it’s adapted for today’s taste – the female protagonist may be flailing, but she’s no damsel-in-distress. Nick can be flirtatious, but he’s no jerk.
There are no larger-than-life, dramatic controversies or plot twists – only a legal loophole.
There’s no change of heart or wild makeover. The guy and the girl are both great people, honourable humans, and very conscientious.
(Did we mention how Susan works pro-bono all the time! Nick has a moving background story of a sporting career shortened due to an ACL injury!)
Even so, it makes for a great watch. Why?
Love, Guaranteed swipes left on online dating…until it doesn’t
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It may seem like Love, Guaranteed is dismissive of the whole set-up of online dating.
In a montage that takes us through the 3 dates that Susan tries & her interviews with a few handpicked dates from Nick’s well-documented list, we’re teased with the highs and lows of online dating.
From being ghosted to no-shows, to people looking nothing like their profile pictures – it’s the usual assortment of online dating nightmares.
The eccentricities were so striking that Nick ended up documenting and naming each of his date like an episode of Friends.
Think “the one who needed a date to her sister’s wedding”, or “the one who talked about cats all night”.
For a man who’s documenting the quirky eccentricities of his dates so meticulously, this was his own.
At the same time, Susan’s sister breezily reminds her that she met her saint-of-a-husband through online dating. Nothing’s off the table.
Nick is not a spoilt, rich jerk. Susan is not a prude. Quite the opposite, actually
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Having an uptight female lead who learns to laugh and take it easy by the end of the movie, owing to the guy?
We’ve seen this before in The Ugly Truth, Knocked Up, 27 Dresses, Long Shot, The Proposal, The Holiday…you get the drift. But Susan and Nick aren’t the stereotypical protagonists.
Nick isn’t cocky even though we expect him to be, due to years of conditioning of watching the guy in rom-com be smug in his lifestyle choices.
Susan may be a mess but she doesn’t undermine all the wonderful things she is.
We expect her to be a lot more clumsy in general or reeling in joy over external validation from Nick, but she doesn’t need a man to be told how attractive her crusade-for-justice attitude is.
Her social goofiness doesn’t undercut her powerful personality.
That doesn’t mean she doesn’t yearn. To hit the contrast home with a punch, Susan is shown eating out from take-out Chinese boxes that she stocks every week to avoid decision fatigue.
As she sips rose and looks out the window at the gloomy, rainy Seattle, her sister’s family next door is bustling. Susan’s isolation is subtly hinted at, but it’s not derided as a lifestyle choice.
Interestingly, the audience learns about the lack of these clichés the same way protagonists do.
At first, Susan believes Nick is a “loophole shark”, who’s found a classic “gotcha” lawsuit and is trying to get easy money.
But later on, during an autumnal walk in the park with Nick, she shares, “You’re not the cheesy swindler I had you pegged for.”
We had too, Susan. Nick retort goes, “You’re not the uptight lawyer I assumed you were.”
They both have Jerome’s blessings, who told Susan early on, “He’s a good egg, like you.”
We are tired of watching tumultuous relationships on-screen
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Both Nick and Susan are unproblematic characters for the large part. They’ve led innocuous lives, getting frustrated at it more than giving grief to the people they’ve met along the way. In fact, Nick didn’t even pick a bone with his ex-fiancee, who just up and left him.
Nick and Susan have a chemistry that is palpable even in a hug, but to many, the romance might seem bland and bloodless. On the contrary, I’d like to argue that it’s a welcome change. We’ve seen enough conflicts and tumult in on-screen relationships, so it’s nice to see that sometimes, solving the hiccups don’t need any grand gestures, just open communication.
Love, Guaranteed is just the meet-cute. The love story will follow
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To be accurate, the meet-cute between Susan and Nick was at the coffee cart down the street, when Nick told Susan in his trademark nonchalant, stickler fashion, “You know it’s a scam, right? Pumpkin spice Latte…there’s no pumpkin in it, just pumpkin flavouring. You’re drinking a lie.”
But the way I see it, Love, Guaranteed was a meet-cute in itself.
The characters will start dating where the movie gets over, and that seems so much more realistic.
When Nick and Susan first meet, Susan’s priority is to save her failing business.
Susan’s proclivity to fight for the “small guy” upholds her reputation as the kid crusader for justice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
So she has scary bills piled up & a surge in rent to look forward to.
Considering Nick’s case a “shameless” pursuit, she still takes it on because of the windfall gain it’d entail & partly for the thrill of going against the giant outfit headed by Tamara Taylor.
She didn’t magically fall for Nick immediately and take the case; there was logic involved – an ingredient missing in many romantic comedy universes.
We could all use a cosy romance that follows two decent human beings growing fonder of each other, finding warmth in each other’s company, and understanding love for what it is.
Love, Guaranteed guarantees that.
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