Here is a boilerplate romantic comedy from first-time feature directors Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, co-writers of the Hulu TV comedy PEN15, whose star Maya Erskine now takes the female lead. It is a formulaic mashup of Four Weddings and a Funeral and My Best Friend’s Wedding.
Erskine plays Alice, a smart Japanese-American woman who has just had a tough breakup with her boyfriend; her dorky best friend, Ben (Jack Quaid), is also single. So they agree to be each other’s plus one at all the mortifying weddings they’ve got invited to this year. Ben and Alice are always wisecracking and kidding around together and mocking the cute nonsense of weddings, and Alice is always setting Ben up with the hot women they see there. (“I totally microwaved that hot meet-cute for you!”) But then … well, you know what’s coming.
Erskine is strong in this film and handles the tonal transitions pretty well – and the movie has an interesting and original idea, when Ben’s divorced dad Chuck (Ed Begley Jr) asks him to be best man at his wedding, to the horror of Ben, who hasn’t entirely forgiven him for running out on his mom. Maybe that premise, with all its rich cringe potential, should have been the whole point of this film.
Plus One itself runs perfectly efficiently, but the sense of deja vu is just too overwhelming, right down to the montage of moments at the end, and it is always requiring its co-leads to burst out in affectionate teasing laughter at each other. It needed bigger laughs and more of the big, ironic comedy that Erskine can clearly deliver.
• Plus One is released in the UK on 7 February.