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Film / Love Don't Cost a Thing

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It pays to be yourself!

This 2003 comedy movie, directed by Troy Beyer, is basically Can't Buy Me Love but remixed with a black cast.

Alvin Johnson (Nick Cannon) is a lovelorn hideous nerd who is smitten with the school's most popular and hard-bodied princess, Paris Morgan (Christina Milian). Alvin, a mechanic, helps Christina out when she ruins her mother's truck and in lieu of payment, accepts her decision to make him popular for two weeks. Hilarity, misogyny and a barrage of morals and aesops ensue.

Love Don't Cost a Thing contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Alvin's parents are the last to realize what inspired Alvin's new personality. Also, how does no one stop Ted from holding up the entire game just to make people move to a different section or listen to Alvin tell him about how's going to be himself from now on?
  • All Men Are Perverts: Walter, who actually spies on the cheerleaders with binoculars while they're doing their routine at the game.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Aretha.
  • Beta Bitch: Yvonne, who goes out with Alvin not even a day after the two broke up.
  • Beach Episode: For senior ditch day, of course.
  • Black and Nerdy: Alvin, much to his father's chagrin. He's ridiculed for this by his sister, as well.
  • Blessed with Suck: How Paris explains how popularity works. "Work to get in, work to stay in."
  • Chekhov's Gun: A condom. Alvin's father has the sex talk with him and provided him condoms to demonstrate how to rip the wrapper. He later uses it to fix a car.
  • Daydream Surprise: Alvin fantasizes about kissing Paris. He walks on her pool's water to get to her when she beckons for him, but is quickly snapped out of reality when he falls in.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Seriously Paris, didn't anyone teach you not to flip out on your boyfriend and drive at the same time?
  • Face–Heel Turn: Alvin turns into a jerkass when he and Paris's agreement reach an end. He eventually does a Heel–Face Turn when he realizes he actually lost more than he gained in his pursuit to be popular.
  • Female Gaze: The camera really loves Paris...
  • Fanservice: Guess.
  • Girl Posse
  • Hidden Depths: Paris, who wants to be a singer-songwriter.
  • Hypocrite: So it's perfectly fine for Dru to cheat on Paris (and lie about it, no less), but as soon as he learns that Paris has a new boyfriend, he gets upset and even raises his hand to her when she tries to explain herself.
  • Jerkass: Whoa, boy. Where to begin?
    • Dru. Cheating on Paris and then reappearing out of the blue to reclaim her without appearing the least bit remorseful counts. On top of that, having the nerve to be upset, even angry when he hears that she dated someone else when they were done? He definitely qualifies.
    • Ted also counts, for his persistent bullying of Alvin.
    • Alvin even counts for a while when he starts treating Paris like crap and goes overboard.
    • Yvonne, who completely (and almost randomly) is suddenly interested in Alvin when he publicly dumps Paris.
    • Zoe as well! At first she questions Yvonne's judgement for being a bad friend. Then, in the locker room, when Yvonne announces that she's seeing Alvin and Paris objects, Zoe follows Yvonne when she leaves and even gives Paris a bitchy grimace! Later on, after Paris is alone, she talks to Zoe about moving to San Francisco to be a songwriter. Zoe laughs in her face and tells her to "get real" and marry Dru because he's her meal ticket and life doesn't get better than "being the wife of an NBA star." Pretty much the only person not a jerk in this movie is Paris.
  • Jerk Jock: Ted, who apparently thinks he can tell people what hallways to use and where to sit in the bleachers.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Paris doesn't necessarily come off as bitchy, unlike her counterpart in the previous movie. She even defends Alvin when her friends start picking on him when he's cleaning her pool. Her status seems to be what makes her the alpha, as opposed to her attitude.
  • Makeover Montage: Paris cuts Alvin's hair, gets him some new clothes and shows him how to appear more confident.
  • Only Sane Woman: Aretha, who is the first to take Alvin's uncharacteristic changes seriously and busts him to her parents when she realizes he paid Paris to go out with him.
  • Pair the Spares: Alvin's friends after he gives his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Ted. Walter defends Alvin and gets rewarded with girls. So do his other friends, though one is visibly uncomfortable with who ends up approaching him.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Alvin's parents are too busy listening to old R&B music to notice that he's changing for the worst. Aretha, Alvin's younger sister, has to be the one to connect the dots for them.
  • Serenade Your Lover: In a deleted scene, Anthony goes for a newly single Paris by rapping his feelings to her. She can later be seen with him while Alvin is on a date with Yvonne.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Alvin delivers one to Paris when she rants about how she's lying about who she really is for a long time.
  • Stylistic Suck: The dance Alvin performs at the beach party, in-universe. The crowd is laughing at him at first, but soon...everybody winds up doing it before the scene is over.
  • The Reveal: Paris exposes she and Alvin's deal to the entire senior class.
  • Token White: Zoe.
  • Turn of the Millennium: And how! Sean John clothing, pagers, Nelly, bucket fisherman hats, velour, flip phones, R. Kelly, bare midriff everything, Air Force Ones, tracksuits, braids. All severely date the movie but give a snapshot of the early noughties for black youths.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Paris's mother warns her not to drive the car when she and her boyfriend leave for two weeks. She totally listens to her.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Alvin's friends are dismayed to see him now hanging out with the same guys who used to bully him. They cut him off when he doesn't show up to help them finish their project.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Alvin's dad. His speech to his son about how proud he is of him.