Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Adam & Alison Watch Christmas Movies: LOVE HARD

 by Adam Thas and Alison Thas

Part 3: Love Hard

Alison: While Love Hard is marketed as a holiday movie, I can say that this one doesn’t feel like all the rest – in a good way. Love Hard comes across more genuine and funnier than its holiday counterparts. The plot line and the setting may be familiar (Side note – good call on the writers’ part setting it in Lake Placid. Somehow Lake Placid just sounds like it would be the perfect Christmas village and bonus, it is an ACTUAL place. I’m put into a different mindset than other movies because of this little drop of reality.) The characters – Natalie and Josh – set this movie apart from others. I was instantly charmed by Natalie and was rooting for her from the get-go. I could say the same for Josh despite some questionable decisions in the beginning. You get to watch as these characters build believable relationships and come together against the backdrop of Christmas. Christmas movies are popular for delivering to us that feel-good feeling. Love Hard does it in a way that feels earned while others are just aspiring to do that (I’m looking at you, Holiday in the Wild!) If you are looking for some holiday spirit without the cookie-cutter feel of holiday movies, Love Hard is for you.
Adam: These movies are so interesting the further you get into the genre. The best way to explain it is that it’s like watching old episodes of Bonanza with my grandfather growing up, in that they are all variations of the same formula. Every one of these holiday movies has the same beats, same themes and imagery, so much so that someone who is aware enough of the genre can see when a movie is playing with the formula. Love Hard starts out with the same themes we see in so many of these movies: Natalie (Nina Dobrev) is a writer (they’re always writers) who is constantly in search of love, and it’s difficult because she’s a very Type A person (they’re always Type A). In a complete stray from her norm, she decides to surprise her online sweetheart and fly across the country to Lake Placid for Christmas. When she arrives in Lake Placid, things don’t quite go as she expected and obviously this is how Love Hard derives its entire plot. At this point it’s impossible for me to talk about the movie spoiler free so if you are interested in watching it, I recommend this one. Everyone is cast really well and besides being a good Holiday movie, it’s a good movie in general.
No longer spoiler free here. Natalie quickly finds out that she is being catfished, and that Josh is not the person she’s been getting pictures of. What makes this movie unique is more than sticking to a story, it sticks to a theme that is deeper than the typical “family,” “love,” or “holiday spirit” we get in so many of these movies. Love Hard explores the things we change about ourselves for relationships and questions why we are more offended by people changing appearance and not personality traits. It starts with a scene where Natalie tries using her looks to pick up some guys, only to find her looks have failed her, and then gradually builds to where she is changing pieces of her social identity in a quest for companionship. When Love Hard is at its best is when it's exploring this theme without calling attention to it. Like so many modern movies, they couldn’t just let the theme exist. Towards the end of the movie one of the characters literally blurts out the theme so that we all understand it. Despite a few flaws, I really liked this one and it's one of the few that I would recommend for people just looking for a good movie and not one that only works inside the genre. It brings the lightness of so many of these holiday movies, but has enough substance and is doing enough interesting things that it starts to branch away and becomes more universally enjoyable. If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, watch Love Hard.

Adam’s List:
1) Holidate (2020, Netflix)
2) Love Hard (2021, Netflix)
3) Holiday Calendar (2018, Netflix)
4) Snowed Inn (2017, Hallmark)
5) The Princess Switch (2018, Netflix)
6) The Knight Before Christmas (2019, Netflix)
7) Midnight at the Magnolia (2020, Netflix)
8) Christmas Under Wraps (2014, Hallmark)
9) The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again (2020, Netflix)
10) The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (2021, Netflix)
11) Holiday in the Wild (2019, Netflix)
12) Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018, Hallmark)

Alison’s List:
1) The Princess Switch (2018, Netflix)
2) Love Hard (2021, Netflix)
3) Holiday Calendar (2018, Netflix)
4) Holidate (2020, Netflix)
5) The Knight Before Christmas (2019, Netflix)
6) Christmas Under Wraps (2014, Hallmark)
7) Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018, Hallmark)
8) The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again (2020, Netflix)
9) Snowed Inn (2017, Hallmark)
10) The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star (2021, Netflix)
11) Holiday in the Wild (2019, Netflix)

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