2.5 Stars (out of 4)
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Any spoof runs the risk of becoming that which is being parodied. At times, I Hate Luv Storys stops being a parody of clichéd romantic comedies and becomes one itself.
Jay (Imran Khan) is a roguishly charming assistant director who abhors the idea of marriage. Simran (Sonam Kapoor) is an adorable art director and hopeless romantic. They form an instant enmity after he hits on her in a movie theater, only to learn the next day that she’s his new boss.
The characters readily acknowledge the clichéd nature of their circumstances with voiceovers directed at the audience. Simran has a boyfriend named Raj, which is the Bollywood equivalent a girl named Juliet having a boyfriend named Romeo (Simran and Raj are the romantic leads in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge).
Given that this is a parody of Bollywood romances, the relationship between Jay and Simran is destined to grow from loathing to friendship to love, with numerous obstacles thrown in their way until the eventual happy ending. There are a number of opportunities for the movie to deviate from the formula in a satisfying way, but it never does.
I Hate Luv Storys suffers a bit for sticking so closely to the formula. Jay is such a lazy cad that he’s almost unlikable. His only job on the movie set where he and Simran work seems to be making it impossible for her to do her job.
With no attractive qualities other than an appealing smirk, it’s hard to imagine career-minded Simran falling for him unless she was scripted to. And let’s not forget about her serious boyfriend.
Poor Raj (Sammir Dattani) gets treated worse than most other Nice Boyfriend Who’s Doomed to Get Dumped characters. Raj is a cute, successful banker with a slightly corny habit of wearing the same color shirt as Simran’s. He’s thoughtful and totally devoted to her.
In most movies, the doomed boyfriend has a secret girlfriend on the side or some other heretofore unknown flaw that warrants his dumping. The closest thing Raj has to a flaw is that he brings Simran white daisies every day, mistakenly thinking that white is her favorite color (it’s actually red). She doesn’t bother to correct him until she’s already decided to ditch him.
Despite the undeserved abuse Raj suffers, there are some quality moments in I Hate Luv Storys. Simran addresses her conflicted feelings with insightful self-criticism. Jay’s one-night stand, Giselle, generates laughs as she awkwardly tries to make Simran jealous.
There’s also a delightful movie within the movie, with a plot cobbled together from other Bollywood romances, right down to the music. The lead actor in that movie has some funny bits, and there are gorgeous exterior shots of New Zealand’s south island.
However, I Hate Luv Storys is just too long. I thought the movie was nearing its conclusion, only to have an “Intermission” graphic pop up onscreen. The movie doesn’t just address common romcom clichés; it repeats them at length. There are at least two musical montages of one character staring longingly at the other, plus several other montages and dance numbers.
The point of a spoof is that the audience already knows the clichés being lampooned. We only need a glimpse to get the point.
I Hate Luv Storys has a runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.