A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Love Don't Cost a Thing" is a remake of "Can't Buy Me Love" (1987), a movie I despised, and yet this version is sweet and kind of touching, and I liked it. The difference, I think, is that the new one is lower on cynicism and higher on wisdom, and might actually contain some truth about the agonies of high school insecurity.
Both films have the same premise: A nerd in his senior year is getting good grades, but doesn't have a clue about dating. In desperation, he bribes the most popular girl in school to date him long enough to change his image. She agrees. The 1987 movie painted its characters (played by Patrick Dempsey and Amanda Peterson) in fairly mercenary terms, but the characters in the remake are softened and made more likeable.
Alvin Johnson (Nick Cannon) sees his chance when Paris Morgan (Christina Milian) turns up at the auto shop where he works, seeking emergency repairs to the front end of her mother's Cadillac SUV. The shop can't meet her deadline, but Alvin offers to help her out -- in return for two weeks of dating. What she doesn't know is that he'll have to take the money he was saving for a science fair in order to pay for a replacement part.
Their high school is portrayed as a series of cruel no-go zones; an unpopular student would never venture into the corridor where the popular kids have their lockers, and so the first time Alvin (with Paris) ventures into that forbidden territory, it's a giddy victory. And it goes to his head; intoxicated by his newfound popularity, which has indeed rubbed off from Paris, he drops his old buddies from science class and starts acting out like a demented Chris Rock.