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Movie Review

Alvin is a man with passion, tenacity and a dream. That dream is to design an absolutely killer car engine for a General Motors competition so he can get a full ride to college. In order to fund his aspiration, Alvin spends all his free time cleaning pools and puttering around in greasy garages with his gang of gearhead friends. Unfortunately, though, that causes Alvin to come up a bit short in social situations. Jocks and cheerleaders are the ones who get all the acclaim. Not guys who excel in shop class and chemistry.

That's why Alvin wishes with all his heart that he were popular. Then, people would stop calling him a loser. Then, he's convinced, he would feel that life is worthwhile. And Paris Morgan would notice him. Ah, Paris, the ineffable, sublime goddess of all things popular. Alvin would give his right arm if he could just walk down the hall with her at school.

Then one day, something miraculous happens. Paris gets in a fender-bender after borrowing her mom's car. She has no cash, no time and needs the car fixed yesterday. Enter Alvin, automobile wizard. He offers Paris a deal. He’ll give her the cash she needs for parts and fix the car himself for free with only one small stipulation—that Paris pretend to be his girlfriend for two weeks. She gets out of a jam with her mom and he gets inducted into the Society of the Popular. What could go wrong with a plan like that? As it turns out, more than Alvin could have ever imagined. ...

Positive Elements

Paris stands up for Alvin even when she doesn’t like him very much. She urges one of her antagonistic friends to leave him alone and keeps her promise to him even when she could have easily dodged it. She gives him a much-needed makeover and teaches him the basics of style. Alvin reciprocates by encouraging her to follow her ambitions of becoming a musician instead of being cowed by her fears. When Alvin becomes too enamored with his burgeoning popularity, his errors—and they are portrayed as such—prove instructive. He abandons his true friends only to learn that shallow chums don’t stick around when the going gets tough. Paris sagely reminds him that “popularity is a job ... not a privilege. It’s nothing but work and worries.” Alvin’s parents urge him not to abandon his engineering and college hopes in order to be tight with the cool crowd, professing their love for him and lauding the virtues of hard work. The movie ends with a rallying cry to “be oneself” instead of trying maintain an artificial facade.

Spiritual Content

Alvin is so infatuated with Paris that he imagines her literally walking on water (think of Matthew 14:25). Upon being prompted by his wife, Alvin’s father half-heartedly prays before a meal. Paris regularly wears a cross and Alvin makes the sign of the cross before picking her up for a date. After cracking a joke, Alvin exclaims, “Can I get an amen? A hallelujah?”

Sexual Content

When audiences first see Alvin’s dad, he is grooving to classic ’70s “make-out” music, à la Marvin Gaye and Barry White. So when he sits his son down for a “birds-and-the-bees” talk, it’s no surprise that his advice comes out sounding more like something from That '70s Show than Leave It To Beaver. He showers Alvin with condoms, waxing eloquent about the advantages and disadvantages of every thickness and brand. Later, he gives Alvin a roll of rubbers to “practice” with, demonstrates how to put them on via an old fashioned, glass soda bottle and mimics several sexual positions, all the while using coarse sexual slang.

There are also jokes about masturbation, homosexual intercourse, “booty” size, "hooking up," infidelity and bondage. Immodesty is rampant. Super-scooped tops, miniskirts, tiny hot pants and belly-baring blouses adorn nearly all of the female characters. Alvin and his friend Walter objectify Paris by describing her as “a Frappuccino with hips.” Cheerleaders’ dance steps are slinky and provocative. Dancers suggestively grind against each other. Alvin gets his groove on in his bedroom while wearing only boxers.

Blinded by a misdirected squirt of breath spray, Alvin accidents grabs the breasts of Paris��� mother. A beat poet recounts his experience of losing his virginity at age 15 to an older woman. Alvin and a girl fondle each other in a car (the camera focuses on her bra, showing lot of cleavage). Later, he tries to make out with another woman at the beach, but is interrupted before getting too far. He brags that an e-mail about a make-out session is “coming out like a Penthouse letter.” He kisses Paris and squeezes her rear.

Violent Content

A fully clothed Alvin plunges into a pool. Walter runs smack into a locker and falls to the ground. Paris crashes a car into a tree. Walter accidentally sets an expensive sweatshirt ablaze with a Bunsen burner. A distinctly feminine-acting male Tae-Bo instructor urges exercisers to kick imaginary assailants in the genitals. A jock smears a piece of pizza across Alvin’s face. Alvin plummets out of a tree. A basketball player threatens to deck Alvin, but is wrestled away by Walter at the last minute.

Crude or Profane Language

Close to 10 uses each of “h---,” “d--n” and “a--.” God’s name is abused a handful of times. Other crudities crop up as well.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Jell-O shots appear at a party. When Alvin tells his sister he has a date, she is convinced he is stoned on drugs.

Other Negative Elements

Problematic tunes boast about rubbing a woman’s backside, indulge in racial slurs, crow about drunkenness, detail violent sex and blurt profanity. Alvin and his sister constantly ridicule each other. Paris takes her mom's car without permission.


Have you every heard of Hundred-Year-Old Eggs? They’re a Chinese dish wherein eggs are aged for up to 100 days (not the titular 100 years) in a mixture of water, salt, pine ash and lime before being consumed. The old egg is transformed by the ingredients and time into what is supposed to be a lip-smacking delicacy.

Just as a yolk that’s way past its expiration date might interest some and repel others, so Love Don’t Cost a Thing (a “re-imagining” of 1987’s high school romp Can’t Buy Me Love) will prompt similarly split responses. On the negative side is coarse sexual jesting, an abundance of flesh-flashing fashions and an utterly predictable, recycled plot, not to mention a hearty dose of raunchy hip-hop. Neutral are the fish-out-of-water hijinks. While worthwhile themes include a solid lesson on the futility of being part of the “in” crowd.

So, what's the right response? For Joe and Jane Moviegoer who genuinely wonder if this film is edible, let me proffer this: Emeril won't be serving this aged egg for supper any time soon. Love Don’t Cost a Thing, like the bad grammar displayed in its title, gets a failing grade from me.

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Nick Cannon as Alvin Johnson; Christina Milian as Paris Morgan; Steve Harvey as Clarence Johnson; Vanessa Bell Calloway as Vivian Johnson; Ashley Monique Clark as Aretha Johnson; Kenan Thompson as Walter Colley


Troy Beyer ( )


Warner Bros.



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Loren Eaton

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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