Plus One Tries to Break the Rom-Com Mold

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Plus One has a concept that would easily play out in any of the dozens of romantic comedies of the early 2000s. Two 20-somethings find themselves in the heat of wedding season as all of their friends are getting married and they remain single.

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

Rather than bear through it alone they make a deal to double down on weddings but go together so they don’t get stuck at the singles table.

Instead of formatting this as a polished rom-com the director instead chose to tackle it as an indie starring mostly unknowns and shot in such a raw way that it almost feels like we’re just voyeurs for most of the movie.

Of course, it helps that our two main characters Alice (Maya Erskine) and Ben (Jack Quaid) have insane chemistry together. Watching them talk the audience fully believes that they’ve been friends for years and it feels totally natural. As the movie hops from wedding to wedding they evolve as characters too. A movie with such a basic premise shouldn’t work as well as it does but it works perfectly.

The breakout star of the movie has to be Maya Erskine. Quaid, if anything, plays the straight man to her wild child. Erskine has been in the indie scene for a while but never really had the chance to shine as a star. She was great in Amazon’s Betas but was sidelined in an already short series. With Plus One she’s given the space to let loose and steals the show.

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

The one complaint I have is the one complaint I have about most modern romantic comedies. It falls into the trope that both of the main characters are wildly successful people usually living in California or New York. In one early scene, while Ben struggles with his father’s new marriage and the troubles of being single, he is out on a golf course with his father. It’s a little thing but makes it harder to sympathize with the character when they are living comfortably even in the midst of the rest of the plot.

That complaint isn’t limited to just this movie

(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.

but applies to most modern romantic comedies.  The sense of luxury removes any sense of realism the movie worked hard to achieve. If the goal to be real then let the characters struggle like regular people, not idealized characters.

That being said, Plus One is well worth the watch if only for the chemistry between Erskine and Quaid. Erskine is a force of nature and hopefully, this film brings her the attention she deserves.

Plus One is streaming now on Amazon Prime.