The Plus One

Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

The Plus One
dir Erik White
scr Brendan Andolsek Bradley, Austin Highsmith Garces
prd Danny Roth, Danny Chan, Demetrius Spencer
with Ashanti, BJ Britt, Michelle Hurd, Cedric The Entertainer, Jonathan Bennett, Cassandra Scerbo, Julissa Bermudez, Wesley Armstrong, Jay C White, Jonathan Stoddard, J Teddy Garces, Cathy Shim
release US 29.Sep.23,
UK 13.Oct.23
23/US 1h34

hurd cedric bennett

Is it streaming?

britt and ashanti
Bright and colourful, this romantic comedy plays out with sitcom-style vibes, as scenes overflow with snappy banter. Within a very uneven script, there are some enjoyably sparky tensions between the large ensemble of characters, although director Erik White struggles to navigate the whiplash shifts between broad slapstick and over-cooked emotion. Audiences looking for something mindlessly smiley and sunny will find plenty to enjoy. Others should steer clear.
Happy couple Lizzie and Luke (Ashanti and Britt) decide to hold a destination wedding in Florida. As they head off, Lizzie's mother Debbie (Hurd) has a full-time job dealing with her always-complaining husband Al (Cedric) and loser son Sebastian (Armstrong). And Lizzie is distracted when her man-of-honour Marshall (Bennett) invites his annoying on-off girlfriend Marie (Scerbo) as his plus one. Not only does Marie manage to book the bridal suite, but she also disrupts everything Lizzie has planned, from the bachelorette party to a bridal gown photoshoot on the beach. And Marshall is no help.
Corny details fill the script, failing to make much sense. Marie's thoughtless behaviour is so exaggerated that it's never remotely convincing, as is the way Sebastian shamelessly chases her and Marshall gives in to her every whim. The movie is essentially a constant stream of absurd antics that strain for laughs, so some jokes hit the target. And the more subtle moments elicit a smile. The most interesting plot thread is barely here, as Marshall and fellow bridesmaid Anna (Bermudez) try to take care of Lizzie while missing what's happening between them.

Most of the actors find a naturalistic rhythm on-screen, with a few hammy exceptions. The likeable Ashanti and Britt have improv-style scenes that help bring Lizzie and Luke to life, creating a connection that the script otherwise neglects. But most of the other characters never quite make sense, even with solid actors like Hurd and Bennett in the roles. And then there's the broader dialog for Cedric and especially Scerbo, which is just too silly to register on any level.

The script continually tries to generate jealousy between Luke and Marshall, but it's so half-hearted that it merely feels like a clumsy device. But then, everything plays out in the most obvious way imaginable, which flattens the comedy, drama and surging sentimentality. There's never a question about where the story is going, but there are plenty of questions about how these apparently smart people got themselves into such absurd situations to begin with.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 23.Sep.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall