Alice (Maya Erskine) is getting over a breakup. Ben (Jack Quaid) is so busy looking for a perfect partner that he never gives relationships a chance to work. In “Plus One,” these longtime friends from college agree to be each other’s dates to what might otherwise be an unbearable marathon of weddings — weddings whose other attendees immediately recognize that they make a natural couple. (The audience will have figured that out from the premise.)
The movie, written and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer with the crowd-pleasing factor set to max, has a similar marathon quality. Will these two leads be able to outrun so many clichés? Erskine, a comic talent best known as a creator of the Hulu comedy series “Pen15,” suggests that the answer is yes: Her Alice is so effortlessly confident and funny that it’s almost a shame she is destined to end up with a bore of a comedic straight man. (Only Rosalind Chao, as Alice’s mother, comes close to upstaging her.) Quaid, as the stick in the mud whom Alice is always pushing to do things, cleans up well in a suit, having inherited his good looks from his parents, Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. Unfortunately, his mother’s gift for oddball line readings is in short supply.
How many weddings will it take before these ultra-close friends acknowledge their mutual affection? (Even before their arrangement, they feel free enough with each other that Alice is comfortable sneaking into Ben’s hotel room and, at wedding No. 2, they economize by sharing a bed.) The other, more exasperating question hovering over the film is how much back story involving Ben’s twice-divorced father (Ed Begley Jr.) the writer-directors will cram in to explain Ben’s fear of commitment. Only in screenplays and Freud must a character’s psychological profile be simplified so thoroughly. Besides, every minute Erskine isn’t on screen is a minute wasted.
Chan and Rhymer execute some showy moves, swanning their camera over dance floors and through hallways with the grace of seasoned waltz partners. The film also locates a bountiful comic subject in the diminishing marginal magic that comes with attending a lot of weddings in a short period of time. (The best-man toasts and scenery vary widely in quality, and Alice almost bails to go to the restroom during one couple’s vows.) Then again, “Plus One” knows from predictability.
Not rated. Run time: 1 hour 39 minutes.
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