Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall's Love Dump had a distinct humor, but much of it feels wasted on genre trappings wrung dry by their ubiquity.

Slamdance Film Review: Love Dump


Love Dump
Director: Jason Avezzano

The art of the rom-com is becoming lost, diluted by formula and archetype. We didn’t know how good we had it in the Meg Ryan salad days until we were living in the aftermath of those careless times: In the year 2023, rom-coms have become synonymous with mass-produced and formulaic movies brimming with predictable, tasteless humor. A good rom-com is so much more than a crass amalgamation of formulae. The characters and events turn the mundane into the magical, guided by an invisible, cosmic hand toward their happily ever after (with a few hilarious misadventures along the way) and leave us somehow less alone in the face of reality. Love Dump, one of Slamdance’s Narrative Features this year, riffs on the classic rom-com structure and uses its genre-chains to produce an absurdist parody.

The film stars screenwriters Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall as the main protagonists Jessica Dump and Todd Barkley respectively. After a chance meet cute years prior to the destined events, Todd (an eligible bachelor and respected dog lawyer), stumbles into Jessica’s trash consignment shop. From there, we are launched into the plot, our starship powered by deja-vu: boy meets girl, boy dates girl, boy messes it all up, boy wins her back.

Watching this movie felt like getting transported to an Adult Swim–esque fever dream, overflowing with naïve characters who sing, dance and smell things. Some of the jokes felt very in line with the early- aughts comedy trappings we’ve all tried to distance ourselves from, but the moments of disconnect between the characters and reality had me laughing out loud. The strangeness of it all created a world that felt silly and fun.

This was only elevated by the overly colorful set design, which made everything feel like a stage play. These characters don’t exist in our world—they exist in a world where train platforms are for declarations of love, hot dogs are made for sharing (Lady and the Tramp style) and long lost fathers were right in front of our eyes the whole time.

Nothing about Love Dump takes itself seriously. It’s a silly parody film that makes fun of the entire genre, but like most parody films, it can’t escape the shadow of films that came before it. Rather than creating a unique plot that stands on its own, it relies on overused tropes for a quick laugh. The movie felt reminiscent of the 2014 Sundance film They Came Together and made fun of the exact same things. 

Gorstein and Kendall have achieved exactly what they set out to do—they created a zany comedy that provides escapist fun for those that love the rom-com genre. But, they should have aimed higher. Love Dump had a distinct humor, but much of it feels wasted on genre trappings wrung dry by their ubiquity. I would have rather seen the movie do something new and approach the genre with a fresh take. Either way, it got a few good laughs out of me and I’m excited to see what this duo does next. –Morgan Keller