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Film: Puppy Love
Cast: Lucy Hale, Grant Gustin, Nore Davis, Jane Seymour, Michael Hitchcock, D.J. Mausner
Director: Nick Fabiano, Richard Alan Reid
Rating: 2/5
Runtime: 106 min

This romcom is about mismatched people eventually getting together because of their love for their respective canines. Couldn’t be a lamer excuse for an archetypal millennial romcom…could there be?

A mouthy, take-charge Nicole (Lucy Hale) and fidgety, full of complexes Max (Grant Gustin, last seen in ‘Flash!’) happen to go out on a disastrous first date along with their doggie companions and promptly vow to lose each other`s numbers. Their dogs though, have only love for each other and even get started on a family. So Nicole and Max have little alternative than to get to know each other and fall in love eventually.

Nicole is a home stager, a wannabe artist while Max, whom she met online, is a germ-o-phobe who is on the verge of losing his tech job because he is too petrified to return to the office. As you might have guessed it’s a post-covid situation. The messaging is obvious -venture beyond your comfort zone for self-growth and the well-being of loved ones. But it just doesn’t score big on memorability.

Using dogs as the incentive for the hate-to-love construct doesn’t quite work. Though the actors are personable enough their umpteen ticks just put you off. Granted, there’s some realism in this post-covid character writing but there’s just not enough material to make either of them likeable. Their relationship fracas gets smoothed out way too easily and it`s unconvincing to say the least. The screenplay credited to five writers,  is an accumulation of ideas that don’t spell ‘charm’ or bring on the ‘funnies.’ The entire exercise seems more suited to a sitcom than a feature.

There is no tension in the telling. The actors go through the motions without really believing in their characters. The dog scenes are sometimes cute but most of the writing is pretty much weird. There’s even a ‘Doggie Lamaze’ scene in line with the pregnancy angle. Since this movie is about two misfits falling in love, so much puppy love just doesn’t fit in with the theme – even though it’s the major tool used to force them to be together. The narrative tends to tedium even with such a short runtime. It’s probably inevitable that you might end up liking the dogs and hating their owners!

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