Conner’s Critiques: “Love Hard” is a heartwarming movie for the winter season


Credit: Netflix

Conner McBride, Staff Writer

The worst thing that can happen to you when looking for love is the person you thought you were dating turning out to be the complete opposite of what you expected. Like an oatmeal raisin cookie innocently disguised as a chocolate chip one, that innocent plant you had in your front lawn that turned out to be poison ivy, or for Natalie Bauer in “Love Hard,” played by Nina Dobrev, it’s finding the supposed man of your dreams, only for him to be a catfish.

Netflix released this Christmas movie on November 5 of this year, which honestly feels too early to me. However, as far as Netflix Christmas movies, and Christmas movies in general go, this one is a pretty good one. 

Natalie Bauer, a journalist for an LA newspaper, seems to always have a hard time getting a date from men who lie on their dating app profiles to men who end up being married. But when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Natalie turns her unsuccessful love life into a profitable columnist career under the anonymous title “Always the Bridesmaid.”

This all comes to a head when she falls in love with the latest match on her dating profile: Josh. This then spurs a spontaneous flight across the country to surprise Josh only for her to be shocked that he’s not all that he said he was.

Now as far as most Netflix holiday movies go, I find them to be repetitive and boring like the majority of the Hallmark movies your grandma watches. They either reuse the same conflict, trope, and characters, or it’s just bad like Netflix’s “The Princess Switch.” This film, however, was a pleasant surprise.

There are a few cliches like the hot girl falling for the average Joe, but the pacing is good and doesn’t feel rushed. I personally don’t like the trope they use in the movie and how they make them fake date which leads to them catching feelings. Due to how overused it is in other movies like “Holidate” or “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” and how it always leads to an inevitable backfire on the characters. 

The audience doesn’t understand why there was the need for it to be set during Christmas time at all. The movie feels like it could have been set during any time period, whether that be winter or summer. So, for it to be set during the holidays, while nice, isn’t the most needed.

The writers also made the main character, Josh Lin (Jimmy O. Yang), dream of turning his candle-making hobby into a career. The audience thinks that this is unnecessary and is only used in an attempt to make Josh seem unique and “not like other guys” so that really could have been changed or just completely deleted.

In addition, the script is well-written without being too cheesy, as so many Christmas movies fail to do. The romance doesn’t feel overly mushy, the lines don’t feel copy and paste like every Hallmark movie does and the jokes are funny. The characters are also well developed with backgrounds and hobbies along with smaller details included such as Natalie’s allergies, instead of being cookie cutter like some other companies do for convenience.

The setting for the movie is also nice, even though it’s also a bit typical. Even though this one was filmed in a small town, the film still manages to make the town feel like it isn’t all packed onto one street: the filming locations are spread out.

The sibling dynamic between Josh and Owen (Harry Shum Jr.), his older brother, is actually pretty accurate as well, if a tad unoriginal. They fight just like regular siblings do with Owen having classic older-child-attention-hog syndrome and Josh fading into the background, but, at heart, he’s looking out for Josh.

The audience’s favorite character definitely has to be the Grandma, who at this point in her life has zero ability to read the room or recognize context clues, but she couldn’t care less about what anyone else thinks of her and does things her own way. Even if her efforts don’t achieve the desired result all of the time, they do end up making for a pretty funny scenario.

The catfishing process is also pretty accurate too, with how well technology has advanced in the past few years. It isn’t hard to make a catfish look like a real person with simple things such as photoshopping an image of a recent newspaper into the photo or deep-faking a video.

All in all this holiday movie is no “Die Hard,” but it’s still pretty good. It’s a wholesome holiday movie with a healthy dash of angst to keep things interesting, and is better than some other Christmas movies Netflix makes.