In his semi-autobiographical film, writer and director Doug Spearman creates an unconventional love story between Jack and Pete. Jack is white; Pete is black. Jack is married to a woman; Pete is single. Jack has had few encounters with men; Pete is a serial dater. And neither can stay away from the other.
From Zero to I Love You starts off familiarly. Jack has the seemingly perfect white straight lifestyle before forbidden glances in a bar lead to a late night walk with a stranger. The connection then blossoms and the one-night stand becomes a full-on affair. And so we reach the inevitable outcome – Jack promises to leave his wife but never does and thus, Pete’s resentment grows.
The traditional romance movie formula is shaken up by Pete’s unorthodox relationship with his father and sassy step mother-to-be and some plot turns keep us guessing. But overall, there’s still a cheesy, TV movie feel to most of the film. The fade in and outs and generic RnB soundtrack don’t help. However, the film is more successful when character relationships begin to break down and we venture into unpredictability. New characters in the film’s second and third acts clutter the story a little but do provide friction that keeps us engaged. One particularly climactic reveal scene is especially effective and Keili Lefkovitz gives a powerfully raw performance as Jack’s wife, Karla. In fact, she’s almost as central a character as Jack and Pete.
From Zero to I Love You is entertaining to a point and the humour works well in places, playing with race and straight naivety. Its running time could be trimmed, though, and in the end we return to a too-good-to-be-true dated rom-com tone that feels disappointing.