When all is said and done, the ultimate impact of Netflix on cinema may well be that one of the wealthiest entertainment companies in the world did little to truly innovate away from the classic studio model of filmmaking. That is to say: Hundreds of movies released per year that nobody remembers but likely enjoyed in the moment because they were there to fill time.
Every year it’s impossible to discuss new films without hearing casual viewers complain about the lack of interesting or original movies. Fact is there are hundreds each year, but so few with a platform or distribution system that allows them to reach the eyes of millions and thus garner word-of-mouth. Netflix has the unique opportunity to push a movie into millions of eyes, and every few months something trends. In a few cases the company has released something great — like Roma or The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but for 10 months of the year its output is more along the lines of Falling Inn Love, a punny romantic comedy that would’ve never made anything in wide release but will now pleasantly entertain a wide audience of people folding their clothes, doing homework or maybe just chilling with a loved one. Cinematic easy listening.
Falling Inn Love stars Christina Milian as Gabriele, a hard-at-work San Francisco girl under-appreciated by her employer and her boyfriend, the latter of whom won’t commit. While surfing the internet, Gabriele finds a contest offering ownership of a bed-and-breakfast in New Zealand, so she enters on a lark — and wins. She heads off to New Zealand to see her new property, meets Jake (Adam Demos), a hottie with an accent, deals with some angry rivals who want the land for themselves, and ultimately finds herself where she least expected it.
The beats come at an even-keeled pace, spaced between physical comedy and repetitive jokes about a goat in the damnedest of places. It’s hard to fault Falling Inn Love for being bad because it isn’t. It feels like a script written on autopilot by an AI deep in Netflix’s laboratories, figuring out the sort of movie with just enough scenes to feel enticing in a little preview box at the end of a show the viewer just finished so that they keep watching and start this movie. In fact, it’s not such a poor movie to have on in the background or even something to which you can pay half-cocked attention. The characters (caricatures?) are sweetly engaging, the humor good-natured, the pacing gloriously fast and over in a sweet 93 minutes. Not so different than your annual slate of Hallmark movies, but what’s so wrong with that?
The future of cinema is its past, except Falling Inn Love will never be a kitsch find in a Goodwill VHS pile. It exists only as zeroes and ones. It will never be seen again, but seeing it once? Not a bad way to spend a drowsy Friday night.