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'Plus One': A perfect rom-com for when you're a bit over love

Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine star in

Are you addicted to love? More specifically, are you someone who just can’t get enough romantic comedies? If so, welcome to the club.

Around these parts, we know what it's like to be obsessed with lovable losers, heartwarming hijinks, and happy endings full of kisses and laughs and catchy pop music. We readily surrender our tender hearts to these fictional romances, which overwhelm us with very real feelings. But, as with so many loathsome exes, not every rom-com is worthy of our time! Fret not: If you're seeking something silly, sexy, satisfying and oh so swoon-worthy, we've got the perfect date night pick: Plus One.

Swipe left on the endless parade of mediocre rom-coms starring blandly beautiful people, centered around romantic misunderstanding, festive holidays, and idyllic small towns. If you’re looking for a romantic comedy that's deeply funny, cheeky, and whimsical, then you’ll love Plus One. 

Plus One finds the humor in the hell of wedding season.

Sure, for the bride and groom, the wedding day is the best day of their lives — full of glamour, lovey-dovey speeches, and Champagne. But if you’re stuck at the singles table, wedding season can be a unique torture. That is certainly the case for Plus One's harried heroes, Ben (Jack Quaid) and Alice (Maya Erskine). Friends since college, they begin the film as each other's shoulders to moan on at a wedding that offers more draining embarrassments than delectable appetizers. She’s running from a breakup straight into getting blackout drunk, and he is spiraling as the last bachelor standing in their friends' group.

With all of his wingmen wedded, Ben reluctantly turns to Alice to help him hook up with eligible bridesmaids. Alice is grateful for someone to deflect attention away from inquiries about her ex. Theirs is a platonic pact of shared beds but no cuddling — not even tickle scratches! One vulnerable night in a shabby hotel room leads the pair to decide they should team up for wedding season. They’ll be each other’s plus-ones, making each event a little less miserable. But along the way — and stop me if you guessed this already — these two good buds will fall in love.

Wedding nightmares make for big laughs.

Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine star in "Plus One,"
Credit: Screenshot: Youtube

OK, so the plot line is a bit predictable, but the execution is kept fresh through the unrelenting barrage of wedding shenanigans — and the chemistry of Maya Erskine (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, PEN15) and Jack Quaid (Scream, Star Trek: Lower Decks). This undersung 2019 offering from writers/directors Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer is made up of a series of weddings, each of which is kicked off with a traditionally terrible speech, given by a maid of honor or best man who can’t help but bring up awkward childhood stories or tawdry family secrets. On top of reinvigorating an episodic structure with fresh jokes, this narrative device folds in familiar comedy faces, including Miracle Workers' Jon Bass as a tearfully envious brother of the groom. Elsewhere, Erskine's PEN15 co-creator Anna Konkle pops up as an irksome wedding guest, and Saturday Night Live's Beck Bennett drops in for a bit of tough love.

Similar to the time-loop rom-com Palm Springs, which takes place at the same wedding over and over again, Plus One displays our paired protagonists' cynicism toward romance through their mockery of nuptial tropes. And who can blame them? Some wedding day traditions demand scorn, groomsman trying to do cool poses for group pictures and failing stupendously being chief among them. But though in many a romantic comedy a wedding is the destination for the couple at its center, here it's a fumbling ground where friendship leads to flirtations, which in turn lead to a distinctly macabre hookup, and, finally, to confessing feelings they may not be ready to handle. 

Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine are a match made in messy love heaven.

Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine star in "Plus One,"
Credit: Screenshot: Youtube

The Mr. and Mrs. Smith star offers a grown-up variation on her awkward PEN15 character in Plus One. Alice is unapologetically juvenile and brash, making loud jokes about her hairy asshole and vagina to make Ben squirm. And frankly, it's fun to watch him wiggle as he's suffocating on his own high standards. While Ben is fixated on the idea of a perfect partner, Alice's heartbreak throws her into a rebellious spin of being desperately herself, possibly to an alienating degree. Not all of her jokes land. Some are outright obnoxious, but it's impossible to deny Erskine's mischievous charm. Someone needs to ruffle Ben's feathers, and Alice relishes doing so at every opportunity.

For his part, Quaid brings a neurotic leading man energy that's toned down from his Star Trek: Lower Decks persona, Boimler. Imagine Billy Crystal from When Harry Met Sally..., minus the New Yorker bravado. In its place, Quaid offers an easily shattered poise, one which Erskine is primed to break. Together, they exchange witty barbs, playing into the opposites-attract trope. He's the big believer in "the one" and the rules of romance, and she's the brash big mouth that's pushing his boundaries. Watching them collide makes for comedy that is at times crass, at times purposefully cringe, but overall enchanting.

Together, Erskine and Quaid are an odd couple that's easy to fall in love with. So, treat yourself to what could be your next favorite rom-com, and RSVP to Plus One.

How to watch: Plus One is now streaming on Netflix.


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