Plus One, 2019.
Written and Directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer.
Starring Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Ed Begley Jr., and Finn Wittrock.
In order to survive a summer of wedding fever, longtime single friends, Ben and Alice, agree to be each other’s plus one at every wedding they’ve been invited to.
Alice and Ben (Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid respectively) have a wedding problem. No, it’s not their own wedding, but the fact that for some inexplicable reason, they have been invited to more weddings in one summer than I imagine most people ever will be in entire lifetimes. I spent most of Plus One wondering how both of its central characters amassed a social circle this wide; there’s a scene where a character is invited to a wedding while attending another wedding. Naturally, these characters are sick of showing up to them (why they don’t just decline the indications is something I’ll never know, but I guess if that happened there would be no movie) so the longtime friends join forces to be each other’s date at the gatherings they are invited to. It’s like football season except with weddings.
As for our single protagonists, Alice is fresh out of a relationship and not handling it well, getting absolutely hammered at every wedding, while Ben is desperately seeking true love but is weirdly picky about who he wants to date. This leads to Alice amusing herself by physically tossing Ben into situations where he can mingle with some of the single guests. As previously mentioned, he usually finds something to gripe about with all of them (the only exception is a married woman he obviously can’t have, possibly hinting at more problems within his mind) which in turn frustrates Alice. Gee, I wonder where this romantic comedy will go next…
Plus One essentially functions with a chapter structure where individual weddings serve as the chapters. Subsequently, this allows the film to sort of fall into a formula that somewhat grows tired fast; the couple tying the knot is clearly madly in love, the speeches are awkward disasters that are occasionally funny, and Ben and Alice find various things to mock. Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid successfully play off one another and elicit laughs (it’s usually funny whenever they imitate themselves or another character) as Alice consistently pokes fun at Ben. There’s also a subplot regarding Ben’s father getting married a few decades after his divorce, so not only do you have a bunch of random weddings, but the film is building to a more higher stakes ceremony for its climax.
The problem with Plus One is Ben himself; he doesn’t need to be likable but there’s something highly offputting about his silent ego. He doesn’t act cocky or necessarily show confidence, still able to garner interest from any single woman only to reject them over dumb reasons. The script (written by first-time directors Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer) play this up as Ben having unrealistic storybook expectations of falling in love, but he’s more of a low-key unchecked ass that needs to be put in his place, and eventually, that rightfully does happen. Alice is far more sympathetic and likable, struggling to distance herself from the man she thought was the love of her life (he cheated on her) and is basically drinking away the pain. It’s no surprise what’s going to happen in this movie, but the actors make it work. There are also some eye-catching tracking shots at the various weddings that show these inexperienced filmmakers put forth a decent amount of effort, which has to count for something.
Worse than being predictable, Plus One overstays its welcome dragging out the inevitable. There is one genuinely emotional exchange between Alice and Ben after a certain party, but that doesn’t forgive the conventional shortcomings that plague the entire endeavor. Ben’s elderly father (Ed Begley Jr.) joins up with a bunch of other fun-loving senior citizens to take some acid for his bachelor party, and honestly, they might have been far more fun and interesting characters to spend time with. Plus One is watchable and never really boring thanks to its co-leads, but not worth having a party watch.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com