Natalie (played by Nina Dobrev) is our protagonist. She writes a blog in which she chronicles all her horrible dates in her journey to find The One. She doesn’t really want to be doing this because it’s obviously annoying, but the boss likes her doing it because it gets views.
Since she’s struggling to find anyone in her local area, her friend ends up expanding her search radius to include the entirety of the USA.
Then, she meets Josh! Josh (played by Jimmy O. Yang) is on the other side of the country. They hit it off well and suddenly Natalie has someone with which she’s enjoying a rapport. This also means she’s not experiencing bad dates anymore and that makes it an issue for her boss.
Natalie decides to do something drastic to give herself something to write about; fly to where Josh lives and surprise him for Christmas.
This is when we find out that Josh catfished her.
It gets a bit odd here because after their appropriate initial reactions of disbelief, they both end up in a deal where Josh will help her get with the guy whose picture he has been using the entire time (his friend, Tag, played by Darren Barnett), as long as she pretends to be his girlfriend for two weeks to keep his family off his back about his love life. That is the set up.
The concept of the movie wasn’t too bad, in my opinion. It’s a little dumb and odd but I went with it especially because Natalie wasn’t just willing to help Josh out because of Tag, but she was feeling pressure from her boss, so there were other circumstances involved. It’s kind of dubious whether this is still a good reason, but I’m not about to judge her reaction to that kind of pressure. Her boss is a bit of a dick.
The cast was good with their acting. There was some chemistry, but not a ton. My main issue was I didn’t like Natalie as a character. She lies constantly to Tag about the kind of things she likes to do, all guided by Josh because he was helping her appeal to Tag. It doesn’t exactly put Josh in a good light, either.
His motivations make a little sense because he feels under a lot of pressure thanks to his sibling rivalry with his brother; the seemingly perfect Owen (played by Harry Shum Jr.) who happens to be a rich asshole. On the whole, however, Josh is still helping her lie to his own friend.
The dynamics in the family do make for some entertainment, I think, but there is only one scene that stood out to me as genuinely funny and really good. The rest of the movie was fine, I guess? It’s an interesting mix of dynamics between Josh and Natalie as it changes over time, and between Natalie and Tag, as well as Josh and his brother. There are heartfelt moments here and there, especially when Josh asserts himself a little more where his father is concerned, since he has a business idea that he wants to pursue and make his life his own. There’s some character development and scenes in which I ended up liking the characters a bit more, but not enough to really care for the movie as a whole.
I give this one a 5/10
Some Thoughts (Spoilers Are Involved)
Natalie and Josh think each other are psycho when the truth of the catfishing comes to light. Any normal person would’ve flown back and left it at that.
But this is a movie, and in movies we get to experience absurdities that we would (hopefully) not put ourselves through in real life.
Once Josh and Natalie establish that they will help each other achieve their goals: Josh gets to save face in front of his family, Natalie gets to get with Tag; the stuff they do to help just feels kind of absurd to me.
I have trouble connecting to the idea that Natalie, a grown woman who has been experiencing a string of horrible dates, is willing to pretend to be someone she is not just because she is deeply physically attracted to Tag. To the point where she suggests she’ll even eat a bit of meat to be Tag’s kind of girl, even though she is vegetarian. That’s kind of stupid to me.
Yes, she does eventually realise she’s much more into Josh and the fact that both fuel each other’s growth a little, helps make this a bit more realistic. For example, Natalie’s confidence in Josh’s skills with his candle making side business, helps him to bring it up with his father.
We do see some character depth. There’s a scene in which Josh’s grandmother takes both him and Natalie to a home for the elderly, so Josh can explain online dating to them. Instead, it becomes a small warning speech about being honest online, since Josh explains (and in extension describes what happened to himself) that sometimes insecurity and exaggeration can creep in until an image is distorted. He shows obvious regret at lying to Natalie and explains it is unfair that it has ended with disappointment. He says a line: “Love doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be honest.”
It’s enough that he wants to come clean to the family. I liked this. Natalie, however, wanted to keep the fiction going. And that was particularly annoying to me.
Oh, did I mention that they fake getting engaged at one point? And it’s towards the end of my favourite scene in the movie. There is a scene in which the Lin family all go carolling. It’s clear Owen is usually the star. This time, Josh decides to step up and do a duet with Natalie, and the song of choice is Baby, It’s Cold Outside, which Natalie hates because of its rapey connotations. But Josh cleverly changes the lyrics to make them more consent friendly. It’s a really funny scene. Which is then ruined by the fake proposal.
At this point I am about to ramble. Josh and Natalie do end up together, with a reference to a scene from Love, Actually. Josh is more honest about who he is on his dating profile, making Natalie think twice about just leaving him behind; she ends up back at his door. I’m not sure what else to say about the movie. It was fine, but it was very average and difficult for me to connect with where the characters were concerned. I almost feel as though if this was more a movie about friendships and the family dynamics of the Lin family, it could’ve been fine without the romance.
It’s a solid 5/10 for me.
Zen Wick has a passion for writing sci-fi and low fantasy, as well as the occasional crack fiction. He loves video games, art and procrastination. Will occasionally think about Big Topics.