Happily is a bizarre, unconventional, and fascinating romantic comedy injected with a tiny burst of horror. The subtlety of the themes (and the resistance to explain the specifics) is a choice that makes the film stronger. A plethora of sex scenes show off the chemistry between Joel McHale and his costar, Kerry Bishe. The large ensemble cast each has their time in the spotlight. Intelligent casting choices flesh out this ensemble, featuring familiar faces like Natalie Zea, Breckin Meyer, and Natalie Morales.
Tom (Joel McHale) and Janet (Kerry Bishe) have been happily married for years. After mysterious stranger Goodman (Stephen Root) pays them a visit just before they go away for a couples’ trip, their life is thrown into a tailspin. Goodman plays games with Tom and Janet, messing with their heads, despite them having the closest thing to a perfect relationship one could imagine. Tom and Janet try to enjoy themselves on the retreat like nothing has happened, but the question remains: is their bond strong enough to weather the storm?
Happily has no shortage of shocking moments. The dark humor borders on horror, with the mystery elements of the narrative blending nicely. Joel McHale’s completely ripped body could be a work of Michelangelo, and the film utilizes his stunning physicality every chance it gets. Kerry Bishe is his perfect foil—her character, Janet, is every bit as vital to the plot. I quickly lost count of the amount of sex scenes. The frequency at which they arrive is essential to understanding the type of relationship shared by Tom and Janet.
You can draw your own conclusions from the ending; for me, it felt like one dark, twisted relationship therapy session. Weirdly enough, the central bond between Tom and Janet reminded me of my own marriage. There are inherent insecurities that come with any healthy, stable relationship, and this isn’t an angle often approached in cinema. The forces around you try to converge and create problems where none exist. Director BenDavid Grabinski crafts a sleek, stylish commentary on love and marriage that stands as a terrific directorial debut. Happily comes to limited theaters and VOD on March 19th.