Plus One: A Wedding Season Rom-Com

(L-R) Maya Erskine as Alice and Jack Quaid as Ben in the romantic comedy “PLUS ONE,” an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

What makes Plus One so charming and enjoyable as a romantic comedy is the strength of the chemistry between leading actors Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid.

Alice (Maya Erskine) and Ben (Jack Quaid) have been friends for several years.  Alice is recovering from a breakup with Nate (Tim Chiou) as the film begins.  Meanwhile, Ben is preparing his Best Man’s speech for Matt (Beck Bennett) and Amanda’s (Jessy Hodges) upcoming wedding.  Neither of them know it but it will only be a matter of time before they take their friendship to the next level.  The reason for this is that the two of them agree to be the other’s plus one during the long wedding season over the summer.  Nobody ever wants to be the person who decides to go solo at a wedding.  There would certainly be no fun in doing that.

Both Ben and Alice have their ups and downs during the summer.  They’re the two singles going into a wedding season where it feels like all their friends are getting married.  Alice’s younger sister also gets in on the fun!  You can tell that she isn’t happy about her younger sister going first.  They would have to know going in that they would be in for a bumpy ride.  The audience certainly does!

The trick to making an entertaining and enjoyable romantic comedy gets harder every year.  With so many rom-coms a year, the best ones have to be able to stand out.  Among all the rom-com beats, the only one that isn’t hit here is the traditional meet-cute.  This is okay because Ben and Alice were friends from the get-go.  It’s the case in which true love was right in front of you the entire time.  It may sound like a spoiler but romantic comedies never really stray from their predictable beats.  Right when it seems like their entire world is falling apart, Matt gives Ben the pep talk of his life.  It’s exactly what he needs to as to get his shit together if you will.

Romantic comedies essentially live and die on chemistry between its leads.  Thankfully, there’s some fine chemistry between our two leads.  At some point during the first act, you find yourself openly rooting for Ben and Alice to get together.  You just don’t expect them to get together where they end up getting together.  It is certainly the last place that I could have ever predicted.

I do have a problem or two with Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer’s screenplay.  How am I supposed to believe that Alice has never heard of a “meet-cute.”  Do romantic comedy movies not exist in the Plus One universe?  Anyway, Maya Erskine is first billed yet it seems like there’s a stronger focus on Ben as a character.

Plus One hits all the rom-com beats while living or dying on the heels of Maya Erskine’s Alice and Jack Quaid’s Ben.

DIRECTORS/SCREENWRITERS:  Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer
CAST:  Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Beck Bennett, Rosalind Chao, with Perrey Reeves and Ed Begley, Jr.

RLJE Films will open Plus One in theaters and VOD on June 14, 2019. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.