Not rated, but it would have been rated R. I was asked whether or not this movie was offensive by someone who doesn't really like raunch in their comedy. At first, I was very cool with recommending it. Until I thought of that scene. And then that scene. And then that other scene. Then I realized that the whole movie was full of sex and language and then left with the notion that it wasn't as offensive as a Judd Apatow rom-com, but I could see it being in that category. Not rated.
DIRECTORS: Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
Geez, I'm really falling off the wagon with this blog. How was I so good with it for years and then, the second my life hit an emotional snag, it just fell apart. Do you know what got me to consider writing this blog? A picture on Facebook called "How anxiety looks like." And then there was a picture of avoidance and overeating and I kicked my butt into gear. So right now, I'm sporting a really intense carb-crash headache and I have to remember a movie watched, in stages, two weeks ago. This is not my finest hour.
I keep giving the same song and dance to all of these rom-coms that I watch with my wife. I really like making my wife happy and she's completely abandoned a bunch of genres. I'm immediately following this one up with The Spy Who Dumped Me. I swear, I have a bunch of Criterions that I'm sitting on right now just waiting to be watched. Life gets busy, you know. But thank God for movies like Plus One. I know. This is all going to come across as a backhanded compliment to everyone involved in making this film, but I enjoyed that this movie was an enjoyable, yet low-stakes film. I'm pretty sure that Ben Stiller's production company had made this movie. There are only a handful of truly notable celebrities. I don't know what deal Beck Bennett had with this movie because his part is tiny in the movie. Considering that he's one of the more recognizable names, I guess he must have been helping to draw attention the film. We also have Rosalind Chao and Ed Begley, Jr. for people to say that I recognize. Jack Quaid has a lot of credits under his belt, but rarely seems to be the leading man type. I straight up adored Maya Erskine in this role. I only really know her from that one episode of Pen15 I caught, but she's fabulous. By all intents and purposes, this really feels like a direct to streaming movie...but it was really pretty good. A lot of that came from the fact that Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine have just the best chemistry together. I've now had to sit through a lot of these romantic comedies, and I often have to be told that people have great chemistry when, in reality, they done. But I love Alice and Ben together. There's some things that I'm going to pick on when it comes to Ben, but I'll save that for later. There is something remarkably charming of the two of them together. Perhaps it is that they are both kind of broken. I know that is a broad thing to say. A lot of movies star protagonists who are in some way broken. But it is nice seeing two people who are functional dumpster fires. It sounds like I'm being super judgmental. I am an ENFJ, after all. I really capitalize the "j" in that situation. But they aren't such hot messes like the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia type of way. These are two people who have their hangups and problems, but kind of exist in the real world. Again, I think that Ben might be getting a little tropey when it comes to his hangups, but I have to excuse that because his issues are the ones that really drive the plot forward.
I guess I should talk about Ben a bit. My big problem with Ben has nothing to do with Jack Quaid. I think he does a perfectly fine job in the film. I actually kind of became a fan of his after watching this movie. But Ben himself almost feels like his issues are way too on the surface to deal with in a realistic way. His problems define him way too much. Alice, while being mostly comic relief, has some really deep rooted issues. It makes her someone to kind of bond with because we know that her problems aren't a quick fix. But any time I see a character whose motivations is a lack of commitment, we know how that's all going to play out. That's probably what's holding Plus One back from escaping its genre. It relies too much on a convention that we've seen dozens of times within the realm of rom-coms. I would be willing to bet that many of the male protagonists in film rely on the trope of being unwilling to commit. I do like that Ben has a little bit more to it. He tells himself that he's just searching for the ideal woman. That's something. I know it isn't much, but it does give him a little more depth than simply being a womanizer for characters' sake. It all seems like a ploy from weak formula writing. A womanizer, shy of James Bond, often comes across as simple and disgusting. We know that he has traits that make him somewhat redeemable, but the one thing from making the story progress is his internal conflict involving him sleeping around. The only thing that really stands in the way of the plot being resolved is his coming to grips with his faults and making a drastic change for the end of the film. Listen, I adore stories that have a deep and challenging internal conflict. But these moments with the womanizer often tends to be a lightswitch. Plus One kind of stands with its compatriots by following the same rules of rom-coms. The two friends, who are never supposed to fall in love, fall in love. When the going gets good, the womanizer starts feeling hesitant about commitment and breaks it off. He has an experience that lets him know that he made a mistake. Someone tells him that he has lost the love of his life. The end. I will give Plus One more points because the resolution doesn't happen just then. Alice gives him an obstacle, dealing with her far more realistic psychological issues. But even that is resolved way too quickly. If I'm going to comment on this, this is really a comment on the rom-com formula. It's probably why I like When Harry Met Sally so much. Plus One is another When Harry Met Sally, but Harry kind of skews the timeline. It takes a while for Harry and Sally to get together. Plus One really shows its hand way too early by putting the characters together way too early. We know that split is going to happen from moment one or else there wouldn't be a story.
I like the idea that the conceit revolves around going to too many weddings. I know: 27 Dresses. But having that as the way to pass time is really effective. Because the movie centers so much of the sacrament of marriage (I know, I'm using loaded language), I don't know how I feel about the message of the film. There's part of me that loves it. For all of the weird things about the plot, the movie does celebrate marriage as the ultimate love statement. I think I've seen too many movies where it has simply been cool with the "being together is enough" element. I just noticed that on the Four Weddings and a Funeral HULU abomination. Ben's big hangup is that he doesn't want to get married and they both consider weddings to be kind of dumb. But there's also the element that they are only happy when they consider marriage to be a real celebration of their own relationship. I think that's neat. I also like the idea that people who are afraid of marriage are kind of fundamentally dumb. Beck Bennet's big speech to Ben is where I'm looking. But that speech also has a weird connotation that I don't love. It kind of muddies the water of the message because Bennett also treats marriage as something that shouldn't be prepped for. On the one hand, I love the fact that he mentions that people need to stop overthinking marriage. Our spouses are great, but that doesn't mean either one in the marriage is without fault. I wish the speech kid of took that direction. But Bennett kind of takes the stance that he doesn't really know his spouse. He kind of seems like he shouldn't have gotten married. There has to be something more than the binary of either you completely know your spouse or you don't know them at all. Yeah, Ben should seriously date Alice with the intention to some day get married to her if she's right. But marrying her blindly or not dating her at all are not answers either. There's so many steps that kind of seemed to get ignored in the argument for storytelling. Marriage is complicated, but it doesn't have to be overly complicated. As logical as the whole movie gets, there's something to be said about my initial love for this movie: chemistry. Are some people toxic for one another? Sure. But Alice is Ben's best friend. While she defines herself based on her ex, that doesn't make her a toxic person. In fact, it seems like she really has moved on once Ben is in the picture. It's only Ben's action that cause her to backpedal. People are screwed up. But it's just deciding what lines are good to grow together. Bennett's speech, as good as it is, doesn't go deep enough into marriage. It hand holds Ben into making a decision, but it is also a bit manipulative.
But at the end of the day, Plus One is a pretty solid rom-com. It is fun. The characters are absolutely great. I'm now a fan of Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid. It made me laugh more times than it didn't. Is it going to blow minds? Probably not. But it does the job it is supposed to do.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.