Not that I’ve intentionally avoided them, but it’s been almost a full year since the last time I watched a romantic comedy (Last Christmas back in January), and Love Hard sure wasn’t the film to go with in my return to the genre.
First Things First: Time to admit that I didn’t put two and two together and realize that the title is a combination of the two lead characters’ favorite Christmas movies: Love, Actually and Die Hard. I blame the omission of the comma.
Basic Synopsis: Natalie flies across the country to surprise the guy of her dreams she recently met on a dating app, only to realize she’s been catfished. She then decides to pay it forward.
Brief Thoughts: I get that, like horror films, rom coms are full of overused tropes that can make new films feel all too familiar, but I have one question for Love Hard: did a bot write this movie? It’s just so stale, like a grab bag blend of Hitch, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Love, Actually, etc., mixed with beaten to death jokes involving Dick pics, Shake Weights, whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, the sexual predatory nature of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”… groan. No wonder they fell in love over the phone before meeting, they’re the only two people still living in decades past.
Worst Line: “The roof might not be my child, but I’m still gonna raise it.”
Brief Thoughts (Cont.): Things do turn around about halfway through thanks to the energizing interjection of Harry Shum Jr. as the obnoxiously egocentric older brother to our male lead, and Nina Dobrev and Jimmy O. Yang do have some cute scenes together as Josh tries to help Natalie get the guy from his catfishing photo, but her total hypocrisy about being truthful in relationships and not falling for someone solely based on looks makes her an incredibly frustrating and unlikable character. So much so that I definitely wasn’t cheering for her to end up with anyone, let alone Josh (the presumed ending), seeing as that would be completely unearned; and I truly hoped that this movie would at least understand that a more honest (and better) ending would be the two of them moving on from this experience having learned something about themselves and how to better approach dating.
Let’s Talk About That Ending (SPOILERS): Not only did Love Hard force the two leads together at the end, but the moment of realization for Natalie that she loves Josh makes zero sense in terms of the movie presented to us. It’s very clear throughout that Josh has feelings for Natalie, but Natalie definitely doesn’t sell that angle as hard, even if it’s clear that they do have chemistry and enjoy each other’s company. I just didn’t get those romantic vibes to the same extent as I did from Josh, definitely not enough that she’d stand outside his door at the end, Love, Actually signs and all, cuz she’s in love. I don’t care what her boss said: she didn’t stay after realizing she’d been catfished because she liked Josh, she stayed because she saw the hot guy from the photo. So don’t you dare lie to us about your shortcomings, film.
Final Thoughts: There are a few moments of charm in Love Hard, but unfortunately they’re far outweighed by a completely unoriginal script and super awkward moments as our two leads bury themselves in lies.