Love Hard Parent Guide
Although it's predictable, this movie handles the issue of honesty with insight and has some appealing characters.
Parent Movie Review
Natalie has a terrible love life. It’s so bad that she’s turned her dating disasters into a career, retelling her stories in the column “Always a Bridesmaid”. Then, while swiping her way through a dating app, her luck changes. She matches with Josh, a handsome, sensitive guy in New York, and they proceed to text and call, sharing their memories and interests and building a heartfelt relationship. Determined to be spontaneous for once (and to get a killer article about a good romantic relationship) the California girl hopes on a plane to surprise Josh for Christmas.
There are surprises aplenty when Natalie turns up at the Lin family home, and not just for Josh. Natalie is horrified to learn that she’s been catfished. Josh, who is a stereotypical nerd with big glasses, has been hiding behind photos of his old friend, Tag, a hunky outdoorsman. When Natalie storms out of the house, Josh proposes a deal: if she pretends to be his girlfriend until Christmas, he will help her meet Tag. In fact, since he’s known Tag since childhood, he’ll help coach Natalie in rock climbing and the works of Thoreau so she can be irresistible to the hot, humorless rock climber. Natalie agrees, and the charade begins…
It’s pretty obvious that the overarching theme of Love Hard is honesty. Josh’s deceit kicks off the plot and he only ramps it up by suggesting the bogus relationship and then proposing to Natalie, trapping her in a fake engagement. But Natalie is no stranger to dishonesty herself. One of the most interesting questions arising from the movie is the relative deceit of the parties. Who’s being the most dishonest – Josh who assumed a false face while being his real self or Natalie who is in her own skin but is lying about her personality and interests to catch Tag? When the truth comes out (as you know it will), Tag berates Natalie for catfishing him, forcing her to examine her own proclivity for judging other people’s dishonesty without adequately assessing her own behavior. Love Hard is not a particularly original film, but this issue is well handled and its treatment here can give rise to useful discussions with teenagers about dating ethics and personal integrity.
As for whether teens should watch the movie, that will depend on parental movie standards. There is no sex and little violence (although Natalie hits Josh with the baby Jesus from the front yard nativity, which might upset religious viewers). Of the movie’s completely unnecessary 53 swear words, 33 are terms of deity. The real issue here is alcohol, which is consumed in almost every social situation. There’s also a scene where Natalie is stoned – she used pot off screen to relax enough to get on to a bobsled with Tag.
As for overall quality, Love Hard sits on the higher end of the rom-com scale. Now, that’s not a high bar – the genre is notorious for predictable plots, low production values, and hammy acting. Thankfully, these production values are good and there are plenty of jokes that actually land. Jimmy Yang brings an endearing vulnerability to his portrayal of Josh and Harry Shum Jr happily chews the scenery in his role as Josh’s narcissistic, attention-seeking older brother. (In a bonus for minority representation, most of the characters in the film are matter-of-factly Asian or biracial.) This movie isn’t earth-shattering but it’s a tribute to families and a reminder that love is more than skin deep.Directed by Hernan Jimenez. Starring Nina Dobrev, Jimmy O Yang, Darren Barnet. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release November 5, 2021. Updated February 24, 2022
Watch the trailer for Love Hard
Rating & Content Info
Why is Love Hard rated TV-14? Love Hard is rated TV-14 by the MPAA for substances, language
Violence: A woman hits a man with a baby Jesus from an outdoor nativity set. Someone goes into anaphylactic shock. A man mentions having shot a deer.
Sexual Content: There’s brief mention of a date rape drug. Men briefly discuss genital size. There’s brief mention of sexual climax. A man and woman kiss.
Profanity: There are over 50 swear words in the movie including 33 terms of deity, seven scatological curses, two sexual expletives, and three minor curse words. There are over a dozen crude anatomical terms, including words describing male genitalia. A crude term for women is also used.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A couple toast with wine glasses. Someone jokes about using cocaine. A minor character reminisces about past drug use. A character gives someone else a marijuana cigarette. A woman gets drunk in a bar. Adults imbibe alcohol in a bar. An adult pours alcohol into her coffee. It is implied that a main character smokes marijuana to get relaxed. Adults drink wine with meals.
Page last updated February 24, 2022
Love Hard Parents' Guide
Do you think there are degrees of dishonesty in Natalie’s and Josh’s behavior? Does either seem better or worse to you? What does Natalie learn about her own dishonesty? What are the consequences?
Why does Josh use Tag’s photos online? What changes so he is willing to post his own photos?
Related home video titles:
In While You Were Sleeping, Sandra Bullock stars as a woman mistakenly believed to be the fiancée of a man in a coma. She goes along with the error, until she falls in love with the man’s brother. Sandra Bullock stars again in The Proposal. In this film, she’s an executive whose green card is expiring so she forces an employee to “propose” to her so she can stay in the country. All goes swimmingly until he takes her home to meet his family. Midnight at the Magnolia centers around two radio co-hosts, who have been friends forever. When their relationships both end, they decide to be a fake couple for their New Year’s Eve broadcast to drum up some excitement amongst their audience. In The Prince and Me, a university student reluctantly falls in love with a classmate, unaware that he’s really a Danish prince attending college incognito.
If you’re looking for another rom-com with an Asian cast, you can watch Crazy Rich Asians. In this romantic film, Rachel travels to Singapore with her boyfriend to meet his family. But he has conveniently forgotten to tell Rachel just how crazy and rich his relatives are..
In The Sun Is Also a Star, a young Asian American falls in love with a girl who’s being deported in 24 hours.