Film Review: ‘Happily’ (2021)

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Stars: Kerry Biche, Joel McHale, Stephen Root
Director: BenDavid Grabinski
Distributor: Saban Films

“Everyone hates you.”

Public displays of affection can often be awkward or annoying. Happily, at first, takes PDAs/PDOAs to another level. According to writer-director BenDavid Grabinski, excessive love and affection will endure consequences. Happily puts love to the test. 

A continually sexed-up couple portrayed by Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé are, by great surprise, not the envy of their friends and fellow couples – in fact, they’re the complete opposite. Tom (McHale) and Janet (Bishé) never argue, never disagree, and they’re always having sex – according to their friends, however, this is completely wrong and despicable. Couples should be at each other’s throats (not down them). One day, thought to be a prank, a stranger (Stephen Root) with a slight resemblance to Rip Torn in Men in Black, forces himself into the home of Tom and Janet to offer them two injections of a secretive green serum which would see them normalised. Obviously, they call b*llshit, and find themselves in a rotten situation afterwards. Subsequently, after this bizarre encounter, Tom and Janet find themselves invited by one of their friends to a large couples’ vacation at a fancy house with components that every couple or individual could wish for. Here’s the trick: once a couple enters the house, they won’t be the same once they leave. 

Opening with a great retro ambiance and look with its soundtrack, Happily endures itself with an immense sexual nature early on. Total sleaze. Comical sleaze, however, and not quite the erotica of the late 80s and early 90s – hello, Michael Douglas. Because of this nature, from the get go there is a difficulty in viewing this film in a serious manner, despite its vital context and themes. 

Happily, in its execution, would suggest that once the film progresses into the vacation house, the film would essentially become a horror of sorts. That, sadly, is far from the case. Instead, Happily proceeds in a fashion to that of a romance-drama with infrequent instances of black comedy. The slight nuances of suspense, too, contribute to the expectation of horror. Even the setting – a vacation house where its temporary residents are virgins to its grounds – is an open door and suggestion of horror. Instead, in an anti-climatic nature, Happily is essentially a reveal-all couples therapy. One can ultimately suppose that this is in fact a rather wholesome existence, rather than a bloodshed of horror, but preferentially, the latter would have been more successful. Happily should have been a horror film.   

As a film that relies heavily upon its couples, it is most fortunate that majority of them pose some interesting qualities. Sadly, however, nearly every couple – minus the main one – is given the opportunity to breath or have a worthwhile story arc. Truth and honesty are central to Happily, and when select individuals/couples are brutally honest about feelings, infidelity, finances etc., – which are supposedly important moments of the film and story – there is a lack of reason to truly care for these characters. In an ensemble of couples, only the main couple – Tom and Janet – matter.  

Ultimately, Happily can be a terrific adventure, especially if familiar with the comedy shows of its leads. This is a film which can be funny here and there, but without being funny overall. There is an overwhelming notion that a mismatch has occurred with the context and its execution.   

Happily is available on demand, digital, and in theatres, in the US. Many thanks to Saban Films for the pleasure of this film

2 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source, Saban Films, Fair Use 

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