|Just when you thought Hollywood had run out of mediocre films to push on the unassuming public, there comes a film like Love Don't Cost A Thing, a remake of a film that was in no way a stellar cinematic effort, but in remake-form becomes a truly banal experience. Attempting to court the "cool" urban youth audience, Love is a film whose jokes have been heard before, whose characters have been seen in film after film, and whose story was tired long, long ago.|
Rather than attempt a fresh approach at old material (because let's face it, most material is old anyway - it's up to the filmmakers to spice it up), the filmmakers graze over a bulbous amount of "been there, seen that" material, picking only the most obvious jokes from the pile. It's like the screenwriters just watched other comedies and plucked jokes verbatim out of them. While paying "homage" to a favorite film is the best type of flattery, this film veers close to plagerism at times.
And excepting a few choice phrases from the usually hilarious Steve Harvey, it's difficult to find the genuine humor in the film. While Nick Cannon fully charmed audiences in multiple demographics with his performance in 2002's Drumline, his performance in this film is hampered by a lackluster script and its tired approach to the romantic comedy genre. There is literally nothing new in this film and while familiarity in cinema does not always breed contempt, an ounce of fresh material concerning the high-school popularity game could have benefited the film mightily.
How many films dealing with high school have taken place in some idyllic southern California town where the sun shines nearly every day of the year and the heaviest concern teens have is whether their cell phones match their other expensive accoutrements? Why worry about college applications when you can busy yourself with glittery lipstick and stylish handbags?
One could liken the social structure in a high school to the rigid castes that once defined India, where changing one's social status was all but impossible. And in this film, when the protagonist invariably figures out that his life's worth isn't based on the labels on his clothing, but on what's inside his heart and mind, the audience might already be too annoyed with the overall materialism present in all of the characters to really care about what happens to anybody.
The teen film genre has been pulled in a million different directions in the past twenty years, and while nearly every avenue has been explored in one film or another, it's difficult to imagine a film more lacking in originality. And lacking in sincerity. Because one of the things that allows teen oriented films to find favor with viewers of all ages is a sense of honesty and sincerity that has to be a part of the protagonist's attitude at some point in the film.
The bottom line is that nobody took any chances in making this film. Though the "hip-hop" and urban audience is courted by the casting of a predominantly black leading cast, it's difficult to believe any demographic, let alone it's intended one, could kick back and enjoy the movie. Lackluster is probably the most accurate word to describe the film, though completely worthless might be too strong. A decent contender for a night out in front of the television, this film is worth a look on the small screen if you're a fan of the stars or subject.
Shallow filmmaking at its best (that is not a compliment), Love Don't Cost A Thing is the result of lazy script work and a studio's supreme ability to make a mediocre film. Assuming that viewers will settle for a film they've seen before is a dangerous business. Sometimes the right ingredients come together to form an enjoyable film despite a heavy element of predictability (the characters might be charming or the setting might be interesting, for example), but Love can't boast even the slightest bit of ingenuity.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.