Love, Guaranteed (2020)

“It’s a jungle out there.”

After a rough and rocky 10 minutes or so, I was convinced that Love, Guaranteed would comfortably reside towards the top of my imaginary year’s worst list. The direction is corny, the characters are initially pillowy, and the plot is pretty absurd. I’ll even admit I turned it off and went to bed after the first act. But then, out of boredom, I pressed play once more, and to my surprise this initial disaster evolved into something lighter and more conspicuous. Love, Guaranteed knows its proper place in movie culture and finds a way to appropriately stir the proverbial pot. The substance arrives better late than never, even if it isn’t all that new or filling.

There’s something slightly intimidating about Susan Whitaker (Rachael Leigh Cook) despite her small stature. She’s a workaholic litigator, typically working pro bono, and a fierce proponent of justice. Susan wants to represent people who have been wronged in order to make things right. She knows her stuff, is willing to outwork the defense, and refuses to take unimportant cases. But all that free work has her struggling financially, so when the charming Nick Evans (Damon Wayans Jr.) writes Susan a big check, she caves and obliges. Nick is suing the dating site “Love Guaranteed” because, after going on and logging 1,000 unsuccessful dates in Seattle, he remains a bachelor. He seeks repayment for fraudulent claims and Susan begrudgingly admits her newest client has a case. They work well together. It’s no wonder there’s romantic tension.

They grow closer as things become more intense, and the chemistry is undeniable, albeit arriving at the worst possible times. And that’s what makes this serviceable movie an easy breeze to get through in one sitting. Cook and Wayans Jr. are actually quite good together as an odd couple pairing with just the right amount of personality similarities, the most integral of which being kindness. Her hard exterior covers a soft inside. His epic dating resume tarnishes the reputation of a man honestly looking for love. They butt heads and exchange glances full of interest and want. We know they’ll be good together. It just takes a while for them to catch up. It’s the realest part of a film that’s otherwise too predictable and cheesy.

Need an easy date night movie? Want something to watch at the gym or to pass the time during the household chores which don’t require your undivided attention? Feeling lonely in the era of Covid-19 and looking for reassurance that love can be found in the unlikeliest of places? If you said yes to any of the above, quite obviously, Love, Guaranteed is the movie for you. It isn’t great, nor does it pretend to be. Yet the whole point seems to be in telling us that the pursuit of love is an honest endeavor worthy of our time and our patience. I just wish the film had been as consistent and sharp early on as it is in the later stages; maybe then we would’ve serendipitously fallen in love too.

“It’s not a risk to fall in love. It’s a risk not to.”

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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