Puppy Love Review: A Quirky Rom-Com with Paws and Potential

When it comes to romantic comedies, the genre has a tendency to follow a familiar formula: two unlikely individuals are thrown together by chance, their initial interactions are marked by awkwardness and misunderstanding, and eventually, they find their way to each other amidst a flurry of laughter and heartwarming moments. Puppy Love, directed by Nick Fabiano and Richard Alan Reid, attempts to put a unique twist on this tried-and-true formula by introducing the canine factor. While the film brings a fresh element to the genre with its adorable furry co-stars and a premise that has the potential for comedic gold, it struggles to rise above the surface, ultimately leaving viewers with a film that’s cute but forgettable.

The story centers around Nicole Matthews (Lucy Hale) and Max Stevenson (Grant Gustin), two individuals who couldn’t be more different from each other. Nicole is a free-spirited, wild-child with a penchant for spontaneity, while Max is a socially-anxious introvert who prefers the company of his furry friend. After a disastrously awkward first date, they both decide to mutually delete each other’s contact information and move on with their lives. However, fate has other plans in store for them, as their dogs unexpectedly find a connection, leading to a whirlwind of events that culminate in an unexpected twist: puppies are on the way.

The Good:

Lucy Hale in Puppy Love (2023).

The film’s initial setup promises an engaging and heartwarming narrative. The idea of two people being thrust into a shared responsibility due to their dogs’ unexpected love connection is undeniably charming. Lucy Hale’s portrayal of Nicole brings a lively energy to the screen, and Grant Gustin’s portrayal of Max captures the essence of an introverted character who gradually learns to step out of his comfort zone. Their contrasting personalities hold potential for great comedic chemistry, yet the execution falls short of expectations.

The saving grace of the film comes in the form of the adorable canine cast members. The puppies steal every scene they’re in, their playful antics providing genuine moments of joy. However, even the puppies can’t fully compensate for the film’s lack of depth and emotional resonance. The supporting cast, including Nore Davis as Sid, offers sporadic moments of comedic relief, but the characters remain largely one-dimensional, serving as mere accessories to the main plot.

Puppy Love also showcases a bright and colorful aesthetic that matches the light-hearted tone of the film. The use of outdoor locations and warm lighting adds to the film’s overall charm, providing a pleasant backdrop for the unfolding events. The direction is competent, with the pacing generally maintaining a steady rhythm, but it’s not enough to elevate the film beyond its shortcomings.

The Bad:

Grant Gustin and Lucy Hale in Puppy Love (2023).

One of the film’s fundamental issues lies in the lack of depth given to the characters and their relationships. While the initial premise sets the stage for personal growth and self-discovery, the character arcs remain disappointingly superficial. Nicole’s wild-child persona is never fully explored beyond a few superficial gags, and Max’s social anxiety is often played for laughs rather than treated with the sensitivity it deserves. The transition from two strangers forced into co-parenting to potential romantic partners feels rushed and lacks the emotional resonance that would make the audience truly invest in their journey.

Puppy Love also leans heavily on clichés and predictable plot developments. The comedic moments, while occasionally amusing, often feel forced and fall flat due to their reliance on tired gags. The film seems content with playing it safe and sticking to formulaic storytelling, missing the opportunity to take risks and surprise the audience. The potential for a fresh, memorable romantic comedy is present, but the filmmakers appear hesitant to fully embrace it.


Puppy Love enters the realm of romantic comedies with a unique premise that promises a fresh take on the genre. However, the film fails to capitalize on its potential, delivering a narrative that feels rushed, shallow, and overly reliant on clichés. While Lucy Hale and Grant Gustin deliver likable performances, their characters are held back by underdeveloped arcs and lackluster chemistry. The canine cast members steal the show with their irresistible charm, but even their presence can’t fully salvage a film that struggles to rise above mediocrity. Puppy Love might tug at your heartstrings briefly, but it ultimately leaves you yearning for a more substantial and memorable romantic comedy experience.

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Puppy Love Review: A Quirky Rom-Com with Paws and Potential
  • Acting - 6.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
  • Watchability - 5/10
  • Rewatchability - 3/10
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About Caillou Pettis

Caillou Pettis is a professional film critic and journalist as well as the author of While You Sleep, The Inspiring World of Horror: The Movies That Influenced Generations, and co-author of Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters. He has been writing in the entertainment industry for over seven and a half years professionally. Throughout the years, he has written articles for publications including Gold Derby, Exclaim!, CBR, Awards Radar, Awards Watch, Flickering Myth, BRWC, Starburst Magazine, Punch Drunk Critics, Mediaversity Reviews, Vinyl Chapters, Northern Transmissions, and Beats Per Minute.