Happily (CREDIT: Saban Films)

Starring: Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Stephen Root, Natalie Zea, Paul Scheer, Natalie Morales, Jon Daly, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Shannon Woodward, Charlyne Yi, Breckin Meyer, Al Madrigal

Director: BenDavid Grabinski

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Rating: R for A Very Horny Couple and Other Couples Who Wish They Were That Horny

Release Date: March 19, 2021 (Theaters and On Demand)

Do you know a married couple who are so in love that you absolutely hate them for it? That’s the hook of Happily, and it’s a good one. Tom and Janet (Joel Mchael and Kerry Bishé) said “I do” 14 years ago, but even after all that time, every time they look at each other it’s like they’re discovering the entire concept of love for the very first time. They can barely go five minutes without going all the way in the nearest bedroom. Their conflicts (insofar as they have any conflicts at all) consist of little more than one of them asking for an omelette, but then doing it on their own, and immediately apologizing for being ever-so-slightly thoughtless. But then one day a fellow played by Stephen Root in a business suit shows up at their doorstep, and he might as well have a flashing sign shouting “DANGER!” above his head.

Happily (CREDIT: Saban Films)

This man who goes by the name of Goodman gets right to the Root of the issue by assuring Tom and Janet that their little perfect arrangement is simply not the way things are supposed to be. Nobody is actually meant to be this lucky in love, and they should just take his word for it and accept that they are about to be injected with a couple of syringes containing a mysterious green liquid. This blunt setup is Happily as its strongest, as Tom, Janet, and the rest of us are confronted with a fascinating philosophical conundrum: How do we know that we’re in love? Are certain people just wired to be horny all the time? Would the world be a better place if all romantic partners were constantly in a state of ecstasy, or are we all somehow better off if the baseline is simmering resentment? What if there are secret metaphysical forces imposing this equilibrium? Or is this whole thing just an elaborate prank cooked up by Tom and Janet’s so-called friends? We don’t really know who, or what, Goodman really is, and there’s no time to figure it out, as Tom and Janet decide on the spur of the moment to dispose of him, which certainly sets some plot momentum into motion.

Alas, Happily ultimately becomes a little more quotidian than its first act promises, as the majority of the narrative is just a group of couple friends hanging out at a huge vacation house as all their relationship struggles come home to roost. That’s all well and good, especially when you’ve got a cast full of comedy heavy hitters. (Paul Scheer especially has a lot of fun biting into a capital-D Douchebag role.) But it’s a bit of a comedown compared to the Big Ideas inherent in Goodman’s initial confrontation with Tom and Janet. That philosophical journey is propulsive enough to make Happily worth recommending, and there is still some creepy fun to be had as Goodman gradually reveals that he might not be so dead after all. But I can’t help but worry that this movie itself is insisting on the sort of mediocrity that Tom and Janet are being forced into.

Happily is Recommended If You Like: Mysterious strangers with suitcases, Angst-ridden friend groups, Erring on the side of horniness

Grade: 3 out of 5 Syringes