Plus One is a charming, grounded romantic comedy that's equal parts laugh out loud funny and genuinely sweet, with strong performances from its leads.
As part of what's been a rom-com revival in recent years, there have been plenty of new filmmaking voices telling stories within the genre. One such film is Plus One, written, directed and produced by Jeff Chan (Pen15, Adam Ruins Everything) and Andrew Rhymer (Pen15) in their feature directorial debuts. The romantic comedy follows a pair of college friends as they help each other try to survive one spring and summer full of weddings, eventually being forced to confront their own burgeoning relationship, as well as their relationship hang-ups. Plus One is a charming, grounded romantic comedy that's equal parts laugh out loud funny and genuinely sweet, with strong performances from its leads.
Plus One introduces Ben (Jack Quaid) and his friend Alice (Maya Erskine), who reunite at the wedding of their friends Matt (Beck Bennett) and Amanda (Jessy Hodges). With Alice struggling after a recent breakup, she asks Ben to attend another wedding with her - one she'd RSVP'd for before breaking up with her longterm boyfriend. Then, Ben and Alice decide to team up for the whole summer and be each other's plus one. Though it starts out as the pair trying to wingman each other, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but it remains to be seen if the couple can survive the summer of weddings - and overcome Alice's recent breakup as well as Ben's own hang-ups about relationships and love.
Written and directed by Chan and Rhymer, Plus One tracks the progression of Alice and Ben's relationship over the course of the summer. The majority of the story takes place at each of the 10 weddings they attend, with brief wedding party speeches used to segue between the events and give each wedding a specific kind of character. It's an atypical format for a rom-com, but one that firmly roots the story in the weddings and effectively showcases the progression of the main relationship. The wedding settings also give Chan and Rhymer an opportunity to offer some realistic commentary on weddings, while still honoring the tradition. Since every wedding is unique to the couple getting married, Plus One has some fun with that concept, depicting a range of weddings, from a motel reception to a destination wedding in Hawaii. But these settings never overshadow the core relationship between Ben and Alice, they simply bring some more character to a movie that's largely focused on only its two leads.
That said, Quaid and Erskine are a romantic comedy duo to be reckoned with, having chemistry and charm to spare. Chan and Rhymer's bantering dialogue is well executed by Quaid and Erskine, though Quaid excels even more in moments of genuine sweetness, and Erskine in the more wacky comedic scenes. The pair of actors balance each other well, working off each other to bring the characters of Ben and Alice to life so well that they nearly pop right off the screen. Plus One doesn't have any meaty roles for its supporting cast, with perhaps the exception of Ed Begley Jr. as Ben's dad Chuck, but the movie doesn't need anyone else - except to occasionally move the plot forward or, in the case of Alice's family, offer some character insight and comedy. Plus One rests on the shoulders of Quaid and Erskine, and they offer compelling performances that help to elevate the snappy script written by Chan and Rhymer.
Plus One isn't necessarily a typical rom-com, depicting Ben and Alice as compellingly flawed people in a more realistic world, grounding the characters and story even if the movie is set at a series of weddings, which are by definition hyperromantic parties. The premise of two people falling in love over a summer of weddings is undoubtedly standard fodder for the genre, while Alice and Ben fall into the opposites attract trope, but Rhymer and Chan's execution in the script and directing helps to give Plus One a unique voice unto itself within the larger rom-com category. With Quaid and Erskine offering genuinely hilarious and compelling performances as Ben and Alice, Plus One is a fun and funny addition to the rom-com genre.
As such, Plus One is a must-watch for rom-com fans, especially those looking for a movie that puts a fresh twist on the typical format. With summer being wedding season, Plus One is releasing at the perfect time for romance fans who find themselves beleaguered by wedding invitations in real life and in need of some escape in the form of a sweet story. Quaid and Erskine have chemistry to burn and it makes for an altogether charming and entertaining movie experience. While Plus One may not require a theater viewing to be enjoyed, it's a fantastic indie rom-com that will win over the hearts of those who give it a chance.
Plus One is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 98 minutes long and is not rated.
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!