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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Love Don’t Cost a Thing (review)

Shallow, fickle people doing stupid things… and those are the characters we’re supposed to be rooting for. When impossibly popular high-school hottie Paris Morgan (Christina Milian) crashes her mother’s Cadillac SUV, nerdy Alvin Johnson (Nick Cannon) sees his chance: in exchange for spending his own hard-earned, scrimped-and-saved $1500 on parts and doing all the work, he gets Paris to agree to pretend to be his girlfriend for two weeks. Massive leaps of illogic render the story moot — if she, poor little rich girl, has the dough to buy him the entire new designer wardrobe that goes further to make him popular with the in crowd than her “friendship” does, then she could have paid for the repair to the car; if it’s him, who’s just poor, who springs for the clothes, then spending the $1500 on Paris isn’t quite the financial disaster upon which his entire future hinges that it’s supposed to be. But that’s hardly the biggest problem here: This excruciatingly vapid film actually celebrates the trite superficiality of high-school culture, as much as it thinks it’s condemning it. Love may not cost a thing, but this is 90 irreplaceable minutes of your life. And that’s a price far too high to pay.


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MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual content/humor

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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