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‘Puppy Love’ will wag its way into your heart

Graphic by Ethan Nelson

If there were ever a movie about dogs’ ability to bring people together, it would be “Puppy Love.” Recently released on Amazon Prime Video, this rom-com is packed with cute canines, plenty of laughs and a sugar-sweet slow-build romance.

The film follows Max Stevenson (Grant Gustin), a nerdy germaphobe who gets an emotional support dog, and Nicole Matthews (Lucy Hale), an emotionally unavailable free spirit who takes in a stray. After meeting each other on the popular dating app Bumble, the pair initially bond over their new pets, quickly butt heads and later make up when they discover that their beloved pets are going to have puppies.

Honestly, “Puppy Love” is much funnier than I expected it to be. In the beginning, there are a few jokes that can warrant a chuckle or two, namely characters talking and venting to dogs as if they were human.

As the film progresses, its comedy builds to side-splitting scenes that can make you laugh for minutes on end. The scene in which Max and his best friend/boss Sid (Nore Davis) attempt to buy Plan B for Max’s dog is hysterical.

As for the quality of the romance, Gustin and Hale’s chemistry is incredible. They embody their characters’ personalities and help the viewer believe that opposites do attract. There is a near-perfect amount of buildup and tension as Max and Nicole’s relationship dynamic changes from possible lovers, to sworn enemies and then genuine friends, leaving the viewer to consider the potential of more.

A minor downside is Nicole’s lack of characterization. Her family history and emotional unavailability directly impact how she navigates her relationship with Max, yet there is hardly any time dedicated to unpacking her past.

Fortunately, Max explains a portion of his dating history and anxiety to Nicole, but it still feels like it only scratches the surface of his identity. Amid various lighthearted moments, I wanted to see a little more depth and seriousness.

Perhaps the most unconvincing part of “Puppy Love” is when Max and Nicole reconcile following they have an egregiously disrespectful conversation. It’s unrealistic how they make up after only exchanging short apologies.

When you care about someone you should not intentionally disrespect or hurt them, even in the heat of the moment. Instead of brushing it off, there is room for the characters to have a larger conversation about boundaries, emotional triggers, consideration and respect for healthy conflict resolution.

Throughout the film, Max and Nicole bond over their dogs’ relationship and develop a love of their own. They show each other that when you let the right people in, you can face your fears and experience peace, growth and acceptance.

“Puppy Love” is adorable, funny and a paw-fect watch for a casual movie night.

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