Keith Adams Jr.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Quickie Review (A Very Merry Cinematic Christmas 2021)
Welcome back! The next Very Merry Cinematic Christmas title from Netflix comes to us from director Hernán Jiménez and the producers of Charlie’s Angels, The Babysitter and The Babysitter: Killer Queen and in this yuletide romantic comedy, Nina Dobrev has finding love in all the right places but in all the wrong ways. Dobrev plays Natalie, an L.A. girl who’s getting tired of the lackluster results of the dating scene but tries one more time to find someone special and she seems to find it when a handsome guy named Josh (Darren Barnet, “Never Have I Ever”) shows up on the dating app. They bond over everything from special interests to what’s the best Christmas movie (for Natalie, it’s Die Hard and for Josh, it’s Love Actually) and Natalie decides to make the biggest step of all by traveling to the East Coast to meet Josh face to face in the midst of the holidays but she finds herself in for a shock when she meets the real Josh (Jimmy O. Yang, “Silicon Valley”), an average looking but seemingly nice guy who catfished Natalie using the picture of his former friend Tag and offers to set her up with Tag if she agrees to pretend to be his girlfriend for the holidays. Now, a girl unlucky in love who fell in love and caught a lie is now part of a big lie for a guy who needs love but will she truly find love or feel like a holiday loser? The season always brings a ton of comedies, romantic or otherwise, and the primary providers of these are Hallmark Channel and Netflix (the latter of whom produces them with MPCA) so obviously Netflix was going to pump out some comedic holiday movies this year and this one brings out the romcom tropes, specifically the “it’s all a misunderstanding” element, and adds in a few scoops of the holiday movie tropes we know and recognize. You’d think that a movie like this would be very, very funny with a pair of comedically inclined actors front and center but it’s only giggles you’ll get in a few scenes and maybe one or two laugh-out-loud moments with the scene where Natalie sings karaoke while facing an allergic reaction to kiwis being one of those moments. Plus, as you watch the movie, you know exactly what’s going to happen when it happens. Still, for all its mild laughs, predictability and need to lean on both romcom and Christmas movie tropes, there’s some decent amount of charm to be had here, especially from Dobrev and Yang, who are quite charming even if their characters do some dishonest things that might be looked at as them being shifty and suspect anywhere else. Love Hard doesn’t have hard laughs but it’s a good enough one-and-done yuletide charmer powered by its enjoyable leads.
More Christmas romcom entertainment on the way, this time it’s the artist formerly known as Ari Gold looking for love in England! Next Up: My Dad’s Christmas Date!