Plus One (2019) ☆☆☆(3/4): As they go through weddings

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“Plus One” did not surprise me much, but it did not bore me at least. Yes, this is another typical romantic comedy film about two different young people who gradually come to realize that they are really in love with each other, and we can see their predictable narrative arc right from the beginning, but it is still fun to watch thanks to a number of witty moments supported well by its two likable lead performers.

Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid play Alice and Ben, two longtime friends who have known each other since their college years, and the movie opens with their characters preparing for another wedding ceremony where they are going to attend. As Alice and Ben become over 30, many of their friends and family members around them frequently marry, but both of them have not still married yet, and Alice feels quite awkward as her boyfriend recently left her for some other girl. After all, it is pretty lousy for anyone in her situation to attend a wedding alone and to be reminded of the status of still being single, isn’t it?

Not long after that point, Alice comes to have a pretty good idea for her and Ben. She suggests that they should attend together a series of upcoming wedding ceremonies to be attended by him or her, and it looks like a win-win deal for both of them. While Alice will not be uncomfortable anymore as being accompanied with Ben, Ben will not look that awkward while more casually looking for any girl who may want to be in a serious relationship with him.

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Once they make a deal with each other, we see them hopping from one wedding from another, and there accordingly come a number of small comic moments. At one point, they are horrified to find that they are going to stay in a rather cheap motel room, but the mood becomes less disagreeable when Ben later happens to draw the attention of two ladies at the motel pool. In case of some other wedding, they let themselves swept by the joyous mood at that wedding, and then they find themselves left alone with each other while everyone else has already left by a shuttle bus, so they have no choice but to walk back to their staying place for a while.

Meantime, something mutual is slowly developed between Alice and Ben, though they are understandably oblivious to that while mostly occupied with each other’s personal matter. When Ben’s father announces to Ben that he is going to marry again, Ben is certainly baffled a lot, and then he becomes more conflicted when his father asks him whether he can be the best man for the upcoming wedding. While playfully pushing Ben toward any possibility of romance, Alice is not prepared much for another romantic relationship in her life, and then it looks like her ex-boyfriend wants to have a new start with her.

It is not much of a spoiler to tell you that Alice and Ben eventually come to feel more of their growing affection between them, but the movie keeps engaging us as they frequently pull and push each other throughout the story. There is an amusingly self-conscious scene where they mention a certain well-known genre convention, and we later get a hilarious moment when they find themselves in a rather embarrassing position in the morning after a wedding.

Of course, the mood becomes less spirited as our two main characters come to have some doubt on their relationship during the third act, but the movie thankfully maintains its wit and humor even during the point while efficiently moving to the expected ending. Yes, there are several clichéd moments which feel a bit too blatant in my humble opinion, but they are presented well at least, and directors/writers Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer did a competent job of handling their story and characters with considerable care and affection.

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Above all, it helps that the movie is constantly buoyed by the amiable chemistry between its two lead performers who may advance further in the future considering the presence and talent presented by them. While Maya Erskine, who previously played supporting roles in “6 Balloons” (2018) and “Wine Country” (2019), is brimming with genuine quirky charm, Jack Quaid, who is, yes, the son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, is an effective counterpart to his co-performer, and they delight us with their effortless comic timing whenever they share the screen together.

In case of the supporting performers surrounding them in the film, they are mostly stuck with underdeveloped roles, and that is one of a few glaring weak aspects in the film. While Perrey Reeves, who previously played Ari Gold’s long-suffering wife in HBO TV series “Entourage”, does not have many things to do as the future wife of Ben’s father, Ed Begley Jr., a dependable veteran actor who drew my attention for the first time in “The Accidental Tourist” (1988), manages to hold his own small place as Ben’s father, and he brings some honesty and sincerity to the scene where his character and Ben come to have a heart-to-heart talk in private later in the story.

Overall, “Plus One”, which received the Narrative Audience Award when it was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival early in this year, does not break any new ground in its genre territory, but it is a fairly entertaining romantic comedy equipped with enough fun and charm, and I recommend it to you despite some mild reservation. It is not particularly fresh, but it did its job as well as required, so I will not complain for now.

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