Sunday, July 14, 2019

"Plus One": one-paragraph review

God help me, I purchased a 2019 rom-com called "Plus One," which stars fellow half-and-half Maya Erskine (she's half-Japanese, half-Caucasian) and Jack Quaid (son of Dennis). The film is written, produced, and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer. I watched the trailer for this movie and found Erskine's out-there performance funny, and while the actual movie contains plenty of humor, it also sloshes drunkenly toward the serious/sullen end of the tonal spectrum, as many romantic comedies do. The story's premise makes for an utterly predictable setup: Alice and Ben are friends from college. Alice (Erskine plays her as fully Asian, having two Japanese parents) has just broken up with her Asian beau Nate; Ben is chronically single because he's neurotic about relationships in general. Alice and Ben basically go around as a pair, being each other's "plus one" and attending local weddings at which they crack cynical jokes and eat a lot of free food. The movie itself takes a somewhat cynical-yet-fond view of weddings: such ceremonies are expressions of hope for a positive future, but at least half of all marriages are doomed to crash and burn. Most of the movie is devoted to the inevitable: Alice and Ben must come to realize that love is staring them right in the face, and that they're perfect for each other. The boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-regains-girl formula is followed utterly faithfully, and for me, every moment of this film is predictable, right down to when a scene cuts and shifts to another scene because the comic moment has been played out. Erskine and Quaid are both talented actors, but Erskine's manic-pixie-dream-girl shtick, while generally funny, does start to get annoying after a while, and the resolution feels both abrupt and cheap, along with being easy to anticipate. I'd like to see both of these lead actors in better movies. It's a shame that the screenplay does such a disservice to the stars.

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