Look no further than the title of Netlifx’s most recent throw-away, night-with-the-girls rom-com to get a clear sense of what this thing is all about and where we’re headed. Falling Inn Love makes no effort at all to hide what it is—a paint-by-numbers bit of cheesiness that takes an age-old formula and runs with it.

What’s surprising, though, is that Falling Inn Love actually works. No, we’re not talking game-changing cinema here by any stretch, but overall the film embraces it’s rather pedestrian plot, makes no apologies, and stands on the shoulders of its above-average script and charismatic cast to emerge as a better-than-decent effort.

Pop singer-cum-actress Christina Milian stars as Gabriela, a green-thinking San Francisco workaholic who loses her job and her non-committal boyfriend Dean (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) in the space of a week. One night, after a few too many glasses of wine, she enters an online contest to win a charming little inn in New Zealand and then wakes up the next morning to discover she’s won.

When she gets there, though (and after firmly rebuffing a studly local bloke who offers her a ride), she’s greeted by a dilapidated mess, complete with disastrous plumbing, broken windows, and a goat hiding in the closet. Following a stop-off at the local coffee house—run, naturally, by a supremely friendly and cheerful gay couple—Gabriela ventures to the local hardware store, where (again, naturally) she discovers that the perfect man to help her fix the house is none other than Jake (Adam Demos), the same hunky fella who she rudely dispatched an hour earlier. Eager to just fix the place up, flip it, pocket the profit, and head back home, Gabriela relents agrees to split the take with him, in return for his help. It doesn’t take long for her to start defrosting, because, of course.

So far, so standard—and since we can’t not have a “villain” on hand to muddy up the works, we’re introduced to Charlotte (Anna Jullienne), who owns the only (other) inn in town and wants to buy the place from Gabriela to create her own little “inn-pire”. Gabriela, of course, refuses the lowball offer, and the game is on.

Director Roger Kumble, last seen directing 2010’s super-forgettable Brendan Fraser-starrer Furry Vengeance, does a serviceable job here, keeping things flowing nicely and taking full advantage of the quaint Kiwi countryside. And the script by first-timers Elizabeth Hackett and Hilary Galanoy sparkles with little bits of creativity and a firm grasp of the fact that charm and wit go a long way. Milian, too, jumps in with both feet and carries the film with an easy-breezy performance that all but guarantees we’ll see her in a super-sweet holiday flick on the Hallmark Channel very soon. And that would be just fine indeed.


3/5 stars