Plus One (4 stars)

Plus One

Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer's fresh take on the romcom bodes well for their future

The wilted romcom has recently shown signs of life via Always Be My Maybe and Destination Wedding, wafting caustic air into familiar scenarios carried over from the Richard Curtis era. Debut writer-directors Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer take a similarly acerbic approach to their slick, personable genre entry, with Plus One's young cast and tart script indicating that there's life in the old tropes yet.

Executive produced by Ben Stiller and playing out against sunny California backgrounds, Plus One features a platonic friendship between Ben (Jack Quaid, son of Dennis) and Alice (Maya Erskine); she's attracted to him, but he's dedicated to the pleasurable pursuit of meeting as many potential partners as possible. A series of wedding invitations encourages Alice to solicit Ben as a wing-man, or at least as moral support as she navigates the nuptials of various parties, including Ben's own father. But when sparks start to fly between Ben and Alice, it becomes apparent that he's more than just a convenient plus one.

The big draw here is the freshness of the leads: Erskine has an exasperated honk to her voice that recalls Awkwafina, while Quaid has a relaxed expressiveness that complements the intensity of Alice's ticking-clock angst. A few favours have clearly been wangled: from Ed Begley Jr playing Ben's dad, to Saturday Night Live comic Beck Bennett bagging one crucial scene. It's ten weddings and no funerals, but with enough easy laughs and sentiment to win over most audiences.

Plus One feels like a small-scale test-run for both the leads and directors, clearing most of the cliches with grace. It's nothing radical, but Chan and Rhymer serve up new wine in old bottles in a way that's highly promising for future endeavours.

Selected release and on demand from Fri 7 Feb.

Plus One

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • 1h 38min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
  • Cast: Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Ed Begley Jr.

Ben (Quaid) and Alice (Erskine) are friends who develop a romantic interest in one another. Slick, personable romcom given zip by a fresh cast and tart script; it may be new wine in old bottles but it’s a promising debut from writer-directors Chan and Rhymer.