Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid deliver smart, winning rom-com with 'Plus One'
"Plus One" - ★ ★ ★
It takes 47 minutes for 30-something best friends Alice (Maya Erskine) and Ben (Jack Quaid) to realize they like each so much, they do the dance of wild bunnies in a convenient cemetery.
In most rom-coms, this revelation occurs near the end.
But the smart, insightful and spontaneous rom-com "Plus One" isn't about finding love and romance, it's about accepting those things, which can be trickier than it appears.
When Alice and Ben get tired of sitting at the singles tables at weddings, they agree to be each other's "plus-one" for the next 10 nuptials they have on the docket.
Ben remains suspect of dating. He fixates on discovering "the one" meant for him, preferable after a Hollywood-like "meet-cute." It doesn't help that his dad (Ed Begley Jr.) is planning his third marriage, making Ben feel replaceable.
Alice, meanwhile, rebounds from a relationship with an unfaithful cad named Nate.
"Plus One" plies us with trigger-happy dialogue delivered by two incredibly gifted actors so comfortable with their characters, everything they say and do crackles with energy and purpose.
Erskine (of Hulu's "Pen-15") and Quaid share a dazzling chemistry, and they wear their insecurities and feelings like iridescent safety vests.
Directed with verve and written with whiplash crispness by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, "Plus One" sputters only at the end when it succumbs to Screenwriting 101 levels as Ben sums up all he's learned, punctuated by lame sports metaphors ("There are many innings in this ballgame!") and wince-inducing observations. ("You can learn from your mistakes!")
But Quaid and especially Erskine create such realistically winning characters, nobody minds at all.
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Starring: Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, Beck Bennett, Ed Begley Jr.
Directed by: Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer
Other: An RLJE Films release. Exclusive at the South Barrington 24 Theaters. Not rated. Contains adult language, sexual situations. 99 minutes