Nick Fabiano and Richard Alan Reid’s latest romantic comedy, “Puppy Love,” encapsulates a quintessential Millennial love saga. While striving to craft relatable Gen Y protagonists, the film’s main characters navigate the treacherous waters of career uncertainty, all-encompassing anxiety, digital encounters, and the delicate balance between personal happiness and societal expectations. Nevertheless, despite these relatable themes, establishing a connection with them proved to be a challenge.
Engaging with a protagonist who consistently mispronounces her own boyfriend’s name (Haim is merely two syllables!) and actively subjects her unsuspecting date to ghost pepper chicken is indeed an uphill battle. These instances of inconsideration offered by Nicole (Lucy Hale) contrast with our anticipated support for her evolution into a better individual and her pursuit of love.
In “Puppy Love,” both Nicole and Max (Grant Gustin) embark on their respective journeys without seeking love. Yet, fate has different plans for them, for better or worse. Both grapple with personal hurdles: Max, burdened by intense anxiety, is hindered from venturing out, while Nicole strives to shed her self-centered tendencies to forge meaningful connections.
Their introduction to a new canine companion propels both protagonists towards their objectives: venturing into the world of dating. Upon serendipitously matching on a dating app, a tranquil dog-walking expedition in the park appears to be an idyllic setting for their first encounter. However, their personalities collide with cataclysmic consequences.
The romantic leads of “Puppy Love” don’t experience the conventional meet-cute; rather, it’s more aptly labeled a meet-disaster. A sequence of events unfolds where Nicole portrays an apathetic attitude, and Max’s anxiety is exploited for comedic purposes. While Gustin and Hale manifest strong on-screen chemistry, their performances are hindered by the screenplay’s contrived nature, curtailing the full blossoming of their connection.
As a product of the streaming era’s rom-com generation, “Puppy Love” lacks the genuine sincerity inherent in the beloved romantic comedies of yesteryears—akin to Nora Ephron’s creations, a genre we’ve seemingly lost touch with. Nonetheless, the film offers a charming narrative underscored by an imperfect yet heartfelt message about venturing beyond comfort zones for self-growth and the well-being of loved ones.
So, does Amazon Freevee’s new rom-com convey a heartwarming tale of two bewildered souls discovering the strength of love? Or does it morph into an uncomfortable spectacle of clashing personalities? Leaning toward the latter, there’s an inkling of fondness reserved for the archetypal Millennial romance archetype. Yet, that sentiment likely mirrors nothing more than the fleeting emotion of puppy love.