“Wan” and “bloodless” are the first words to leap to mind about this online dating/lawsuit-over-online-dating romantic comedy.
“Love Guaranteed” starts out on life support and never comes out of the coma.
It’s a creaking and sentimental followup by the screenwriters who gave us “Falling Inn Love,” and a star-vehicle for Rachel Leigh Cook, who broke into films with “She’s All That” in the last millennium.
A few promising gimmicks, a wilted one-liner or two, an easy rapport that never quite achieves “chemistry” between the leads, Cook and Damon Wayans, Jr., and a well-cast villain are what it has to offer.
Nothing funny or particularly charming is made out of any of those ingredients.
Cook is a crusading and struggling Seattle “civil litigator,” plucky but a little slow to figure out “sticking up for the little guy” isn’t all that lucrative when you’re not a megafirm of “ambulance chasers.” She drives a salmon-and-rust colored Karmann Ghia and her staff is always job hunting. Broke.
Wayans is Nick, the client who could change that. He’s been spending good money on this dating site, Love Guaranteed. He’s gone on 986 dates, spent money on decent restaurants for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. “Love” may be “Guaranteed,” but it hasn’t worked out for him.
Nick comes off as an “obnoxious, gross…shameless opportunist.” But hey, Mama’s Karmann needs work. Pay the bills.
The cleverest conceit here is how Nick, “dating in bulk,” names those dates “like ‘Friends’ episodes.”
“The One Who Talked About Cats,” “The One Who Brought her Parents” and “The One Who Got Drunk and Tried to Fight the Bus Boy” weren’t winners. Love Guaranteed, part of the “lifestyle empire” of influencer Tamara Taylor, has “guaranteed” right in its name. Slam dunk lawsuit, right? And Heather Graham plays Tamara. She’s sure to bring laughs, right?
Cook comes off as game but out of new ideas for how to make “plucky” and “idealistic” and “lonely” fresh.
Wayans has been cruising along on the famous name for a decade and has yet to make any sort of impression on the screen. Inoffensively bland, “safe,” and not able to land a punchline have become his screen persona.
Only Graham has the chance to cut loose, let her “spiritual seeker” Buddha-misquoting Bethenny Frankel-wannabe stick and jab. It’s the most colorful character here, and there’s not enough on the page for her to play.
It turns out “Love” isn’t “Guaranteed,” any more than laughs, relatable characters or anything else.
MPAA Rating: TV-PG
Cast: Rachel Leigh Cook, Damon Wayans, Jr., Heather Graham
Credits: Mark Steven Johnson, script by Elizabeth Hackett, Hilary Galanoy. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:31