Tom (Joel McHale) and Janet (Kerry Bishé) are an obnoxiously carnal couple in the new romantic-comedy-thriller HAPPILY. They are so lustful, in fact that in a protracted opening bit, the two have sex at a friend’s party, then race home for more sexcapades. All of this leads to their circle of friends’ growing increasingly tired of how insanely in love they are. It is at a dinner that Val (Paul Scheer) and Karen (Natalie Zea) try to break it to Tom and Janet. To make matters more uncomfortable, it is with the exact same circle of friends that they plan to enjoy a weekend getaway at a posh rental in the Hollywood Hills. Awkward for sure.
Then, just before leaving on said weekend getaway, Goodman (Stephen Root) arrives at Tom and Janet’s front door. In a very Men In Black style, Goodman commands the two to inject themselves with the green, glowing contents of two syringes that he pulls from a silver case. In an inexplicable moment of action, Goodman is dead and the couple decides to bury the body in the forest and head off to their group weekend getaway. Acting natural is the least of their worries as the couples staying with them in the austere gated home all hate them for one reason or another.
The most easy-going of the pack is Patricia (Natalie Morales) with her pissy husband Don (Jon Daly). Then there’s Richard (Breckin Meyer), Carla (Shannon Woodward), Maude (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), and soft-spoken Gretel (Charlyne Yi) who seems to sidle into a room overhearing multiple private conversations with amazing ability. Up to this point, the comedy is amusing, but not entirely sharp despite the impeccable cast on hand. Then things get weird…er. Karen begins making major passes at Tom while Janet begins seeing the man they buried, alive and well, in a liquor store, driving, and stalking them. We have multiple stories, plenty of foggy intrigues, and some genuinely funny and creepy moments. Yet somehow, this one never seems to take flight as it is weighed down by a plot that ends up having more holes than a block of swiss.
Let’s talk Good because there is plenty. McHale & Bishé are great as the obnoxiously perfect couple. There are also some wonderful private moments that the two share that is a credit to their talents as well as Grabinski‘s eye and ear for nuance. I would also give props to the cast as a whole. They are a fun ensemble that knows how to milk the uncomfortable humor for all that it is worth.
But really, what the hell happened? As the story plays out, and you will not catch me dropping any spoilers without warning, this reviewer looked back at it thinking, “huh?” The elements that Grabinski was aiming for are there; Romance, Comedy, Unease and Mystery. Sadly they don’t blend on account of a monotone pace and a story that is rife with intrigue and light on explanation.
If you want to enjoy a bit of intrigue, some fun performances, a very chiseled McHale, and solid work from a promising Grabinski, then settle in with this brain teaser.
6 out of 10
You can watch our interview with BenDavid Grabinski Here.