Netflix has gobbled up every even remotely worthwhile romantic comedy, but somehow Plus One slipped through the cracks. That’s impressive as this might be the best romantic comedy of 2019. Or 2018…or 2017…you get the idea.
It’s the kind of comedy fans of the genre will have no choice but adore, appreciate and watch on a steady rotation for months and years to come thanks to its timeless premise and dynamic performance of its two leads.
College pals Ben (Jack Quaid, The Hunger Games) and Alice (Maya Erkskine) have an unenviable summer and fall ahead. This is the year that seemingly all their friends decided to get married and they’re going to be stuck at the singles table. For us not so date-savvy viewers, this rite of passage of single life is as exciting as explaining to your relatives why you’re still single.
To make it a little more bearable, Alice suggests they help each other out and be their plus one for the marathon wedding season. There’s no need to worry about romantic complications as Alice is still getting over a bad breakup with her longtime boyfriend Nate (Tim Chiou) and perfectly happy to play Ben’s wingman…woman.
Erkskine has done steady work in small TV and film roles, but after this dynamo performance she needs to be so flooded with offers she has to be selective on her future roles.
I haven’t seen a fresh face light up the screen and seize the moment this effectively since Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip. Erksine is hilarious and gives Alice the kind of fun personality that really makes her standout.
Quaid plays the straight man who has just enough of an edge that Ben doesn’t get swept up in the charisma storm that is Erskine’s performance. Erskine and Quaid have a fantastic chemistry and they sell the brewing romance easily so it feels perfectly organic instead of the milestone mark for the movie to reach the next level.
Directors/Co-writers Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer have a smart setup with the various weddings serving as subtle chapters to frame around Alice and Ben’s developing bond. It’s not a shock that Alice and Ben end up together, but there’s enough wrinkles in the basic genre setup that it stays engaging.
There’s one scene that accomplishes the mission of never being done in a rom com before and as it plays out it’s clear why that’s been the case. That’s a rare misstep for a film that handles so many other things exceptionally well.
From Ben’s gay pals (Brandon Kyle Goodman and Max Jenkins) who defy obnoxious stereotypes and a thoughtful look at Ben’s marry til you get it right father (Ed Begley Jr., who’s quietly having a great 2019 with this and his role in Making Babies).
Eagle-eye TV comic book fans, be on the lookout for cameos from Agents of SHIELD star Jeff Ward and The Flash’s Victoria Park.
I appreciated how Chan and Rhymer captured this stage of the mid-20s with those questions of finding the one, the pressures to settle down and that increasing fear of being alone while making it immensely relatable and funny.
At just over 90 minutes the film gets in and out before feeling like it’s running out of steam before the ending.
Plus One was a blast and one that’s going to be on my heavy rotation of romantic comedies.
This is definitely a film worthy of the pleasure of your attendance.
Mccall Kwadzo is the editor-in-chief for Mccall Kwadzo.com. Been a leading reporter in the music, movie, television and celebss spaces since 2017.