`Love Don't Cost a Thing,' but it borrows heavily on plot

Movie Reviews

December 12, 2003|By Roger Moore | Roger Moore,ORLANDO SENTINEL

Sun Score

1 - star

For generations, kids have clamored for a version of the 1987 classic Can't Buy Me Love that they could call their own.

OK, for maybe half a generation. And maybe "clamored" is too strong, too.

Classic? That word doesn't really fit in the same sentence with "The Films of Patrick Dempsey," whose inexplicable '80s stardom must have involved relatives in high places.

All right, does anybody even remember the one non-John Hughes teen comedy of the '80s? Show of hands.

Love Don't Cost a Thing is a charmless, Afro-centric spin on Can't Buy Me Love. It's about a sweet, sensitive nerd who works out a deal with the prettiest girl in high school. He'll fix her mommy's Escalade (he is an auto-engineering whiz). All she has to do in payment is be his arm candy for a few weeks.

Nick Cannon, who looks and hams like the last and least of the Wayans brothers, is Alvin the pool boy, one of the "invisible" at his high school. Smart - he's building a car engine for a college scholarship, and rebuilding an ancient Ford with his nerd buddies - and industrious (he cleans pools for car cash), he knows his life is missing something. He can't go through high school without a date.

So when Paris, the prettiest girl in school (Christina Milian) wrecks her mommy's car, Al makes his move. Body work for body adornment. Al fixes the Caddy crack-up. Paris will crack him into the in-crowd, make him seem appealing.

There's no chemistry between the stars, thanks to too few moments when they could set off sparks.

Movies have a hard time tapping into teen culture - clothes by Sean John, slang by Snoop Dogg - because what's hip today won't be when the movie comes out a year from now. It doesn't help when you're recycling a premise that wasn't all that good when it was new.

The new title and new cast don't save it. Love Don't Cost a Thing except 100 minutes you could spend doing something more entertaining.

Love Don't Cost a Thing

Starring Nick Cannon, Christina Milian

Directed by Troy Beyer

Released by Warner Bros.

Time 105 minutes

Rated PG 13 (sexual content and humor)

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.