It may solely be early November however ’tis already the season for Netflix to litter its halls with boughs of low-cost Christmas content material, the obvious time of the 12 months for the streamer to mannequin itself after the Lifetime and Hallmark channels, a method that’s undoubtedly, considerably depressingly, paying off.
Final 12 months’s actually execrable A California Christmas was the streamer’s greatest movie for per week, beating out bigger-budget choices (a sequel drops subsequent month), regardless of being nearly maliciously incompetent, following on from the continued success of The Princess Swap franchise. And so this 12 months there’s extra questionable choices than ever, from Brooke Shields in A Citadel for Christmas, Elizabeth Hurley in Father Christmas is Again and Netflix’s first LGBTQ Christmas comedy, Single All of the Approach.
Apart from the odd exception (2019’s Let It Snow was a shock charmer), it’s largely background noise to wrap presents to, precisely the appropriate degree of expectation one ought to have earlier than urgent play on Love Laborious, the streamer’s first festive providing of the 12 months, an inoffensive time-filler that’s onerous to like however straightforward to love. It’s not precisely a ringing endorsement however it’s a palatable regurgitation of components, figuring out what to do and doing it competently – which on this subgenre and on this platform is already, sadly, one heck of an achievement.
It’s a narrative targeted on the acquainted trope of the town girl heading to a small city for the vacation season (the set-up for about 90% of Lifetime and Hallmark channel Christmas films). This time our protagonist is Natalie (The Vampire Diaries alum Nina Dobrev), who miraculously makes her residing as a relationship columnist residing in Los Angeles, or no matter bits of British Columbia can cross for Los Angeles. Her swiping may be good for enterprise (the more severe the date, the higher the story) however she’s nonetheless ready for the one, or any one who isn’t a complete catastrophe. Inspired by her laughably inventory romcom greatest good friend (the type that in all probability deactivates when she leaves the room), who tells her that each one LA males are assholes, she modifies her app settings and begins chatting to a man residing on the opposite facet of the nation. The 2 hit it off and Natalie decides to shock him in particular person for the vacations, solely to seek out that she’s being catfished. So the particular person she thought was Tag (By no means Have I Ever’s Darren Barnet) seems to be Josh (Silicon Valley’s Jimmy O Yang), resulting in, you realize, hilarity.
The movie then splits into two farcical eventualities: one has Natalie pretending to be Josh’s girlfriend to impress his household and the opposite has Natalie romancing Tag, pretending to be the lady of his goals with assist from Josh. It’s all predictably foolish but not completely unengaging, because of a sport Dobrev, who has a spiky chemistry with an amiable Yang. The large ole classes may be painfully apparent ones (magnificence is greater than skin-deep yada yada yada; perfection is overrated yada yada yada) however there’s a base satisfaction in watching Hernán Jiménez energetically be part of the dots with out breaking a sweat. The script, from Danny Mackey and Rebecca Ewing, is nowhere close to as witty and incisive because it thinks it’s (press supplies ambitiously seek advice from it as When Harry Met Sally meets Roxanne) however there are a handful of well-constructed moments – a surprisingly candy “woke” riff on date-rape anthem Child It’s Chilly Outdoors and a Love Really-inspired ending – that assist us energy by way of a few of the lazier ones.
As micro-budgeted Canadian-shot but American-set Christmas romantic comedies go, Love Laborious is extra tolerable than most and, in Netflix’s dank grotto of subterranean expectations, that may do for now.