A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Love, Guaranteed is a 2020 romantic comedy about a man who, having gone on 1,000 unsuccessful dates, is suing a dating app that guarantees love. Although the premise is hokey and stretches believability, actors Rachael Leigh Cook and Damon Wayans Jr. minimize the movie's inherent flaws with engaging performances. Adults drink alcohol socially. A man is so drunk that he can't walk on his own. The film includes a stereotype about the education level of lumberjacks.
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What's the story?
LOVE, GUARANTEED is the name of a dating app promising that anyone who goes on 1,000 dates will find love. When Nick Evans (Damon Wayans Jr.) is nearing his 1,000th date with nothing to show for it, he hires Susan Whitaker (Rachael Leigh Cook), a big-hearted, go-getter attorney who takes on lost causes and clients who can't pay. She thinks he's a shameless "loophole shark" looking to make a buck, but he pays a hefty retainer and her rent is due, so Susan takes the case. As research for the trial, she meets with his unsuccessful dates: the woman who talks about cats, the one who brought her parents to dinner. She wonders if Nick is genuine, or if he cynically dismissed the possibility of love before the dates. But each woman confirms he was engaged during dates, acted like a gentleman, and paid for everything. The app's lawyers offer $100,000 to make the suit go away, but Nick, a physical therapist who donates his service to those who can't pay, wants to use his settlement to fund therapy for needy children, so Susan, finding Nick more sympathetic, heads to trial. Will Nick win more than a lawsuit?
Is it any good?
This movie is likable and inoffensive enough, with parts that seem plucked directly out of a screenwriter's How to Write a Romcom manual. "Cute" is the target adjective. Susan is a quirky, workaholic attorney with a soft spot for lost causes and clients who can't pay. Too busy to cook, she has a fridge filled with Chinese takeout containers. Her car has a name -- so cute -- Zorro, a model last produced in 1974, with a stuck CD that randomly plays a song recorded in 1987. Nick feels just as manufactured: a charming, intelligent, and gentlemanly catch who donates his services to older adults and kids with disabilities, and treats women well enough to get through a full date, even with women who are boring or cat-obsessed.
On paper Love, Guaranteed sounds far too sweet, but Cook, who imbues her Susan with the unironic focus of Amy Poehler's Parks and Recreation character, and Wayans, who's handsome and winning, pull it off. The charm they both emanate transcends the script's flaws and the director's conventionality. The Rom part is evident. The Com could be stronger. Cook utters one funny line that can be mentioned here because it's entirely owing to her delivery that it succeeds: "You need a sandwich and a nap." Savor it when you hear it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why falling in love requires taking a risk. How would you feel if you fell in love with someone who didn't love you back? Is it better to take a chance on love than to never know if it could work?
How does Love, Guaranteed use stereotypes to surprise us? Is Nick presented as someone slick and selfish so that the movie can later prove we misjudged him? Does that work as a plot device?
Do you think the fact that the plot seems unlikely tells us how seriously to take the movie?
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