Congratulations! I’m impressed, you did more than I would’ve done. You clicked on this review. One look at the title of this film and I would’ve skipped. I had already summarize this in my head immediately: yet another formulaic Netflix romance film I did not need to see. In fact, I wasn’t even planning on watching this movie, but I realized I hadn’t watched a good ol’ rom-com in a while and decided to give this one a shot.
“Love Hard” follows Natalie (Nina Dobrev), a columnist who writes about her online dating experiences and how they go awry. After meeting Josh on one of these dating apps, she is convinced that he might be the one for her so she decides to fly from LA to NY for Christmas. After arriving, however, she realizes she’s been cat-fished by Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) with the persona she later finds out is Tag (Darren Barnet), Josh’s ex-best friend. While Natalie tries to chase after Tag, Josh agrees to help her if she pretends to be his boyfriend for his family during the holidays.
Just from the description alone, you might be able to reason one of my main problems with the film: it’s way too complicated. A convoluted plot about a catfisher who poses as his ex-best friend to attract a journalist from LA that ends up trying to get the catfisher’s ex-best friend to notice her….I can’t even finish writing this sentence without getting tired, and it only gets worse from there with new characters that are added and relationship dynamics that get changed. Listen, I appreciate a rich and complex story as much as the next person, but this film was complicated for the sake of trying to force a new, creative spin on the overused story with no real meaning or substance behind it.
So overall, the movie matched my expectations…mostly. The plot is formulaic and predictable with only slight modifications, the setups feel like that of a ripoff Hallmark movie and the story drags….a LOT.
Yet, for some strange reason, the film captivated me and I wasn’t able to decipher why. It had been bothering me for days. The story and characters are still fresh in my mind when I would’ve expected them to fade away. The setup and intrigue (if you can even call it that) is still leaving me caring for the main characters of the film and their struggles.
This might partly be because of the actors and actresses themselves. Pretty much every lead role excels in what little they are handed. The comedy is cringe-worthy and cliché, but all of the actors, particularly Yang and Harry Shum Jr., were able to make me chuckle a couple of times throughout the movie. Both Dobrev and Yang played their respective roles as the emotional centers of the film very well. I found that their relationship and chemistry was the best part of the movie.
However, good acting can only get you so far, but still it didn’t explain why this movie is having a lasting impact on me. And then, while researching for this review, it hit me.
The rom-com genre.
I realized I was being too hard on the concept. The recycling of a particular idea or concept can create a loathing for it within those that recognize its overuse. But if we take a step back and really examine the concept, was it ever really so bad in the first place?
In terms of making a successful rom-com, this film accomplishes this to a T. It checked off all the boxes of a quality one and added a little extra. While I’m certainly not saying that it’s a good movie, I can say with confidence that is a solid addition to the ever-growing list of romantic comedy films.
So, should you watch? I mean…it’s really up to you. If you’re a fan of the genre, go for it. Personally, I won’t be watching another Netflix rom-com for at least a little bit.