The best romantic comedy of the past 5 years is now streaming on Netflix

Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid in Plus One
(Image credit: Alamy)

During one of the many wedding speeches in “Plus One,” there is a line that describes love as “finding someone you want to hang out with as long as humanly possible.” The idea of wanting to spend time with something for an extended period is how I feel about “Plus One,” a 2019 rom-com now available to stream on Netflix. It's perfect for Valentine's Day viewing.

Written and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, “Plus One” stars Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine as Ben King and Alice Mori, two friends from college who have had their fair share of relationship problems. Ben believes in “meet cutes” and holding out for perfection, while Alice struggles to cope with being dumped by her ex-boyfriend. It's a classic yin and yang situation, but it paves the wave for an honest friendship. 

Because of Vince Vaughn, a generation of millennials learned that wedding season is better than Christmas. As much as I love an open bar, weddings can be challenging, especially for single guests in their late 20s and early 30s. Between transportation, lodging, attire, and a gift, weddings can quickly become a financial burden as hundreds of dollars go down the drain. Existential thoughts about marriage and aging will inevitably race through your mind as you become a prisoner of your insecurities. Doing this five to 10 times over a year can take its toll on someone physically and emotionally.

If you felt this way before, you have company because Ben and Alice share these same millennial anxieties. Ben chooses to be optimistic about his love life, while Alice believes in blacking out and murdering the dance floor. In need of a solution, Alice suggests they become each other’s dates for their future weddings. Alice will even introduce Ben to women at these events. Even if he will not admit it, Ben feels lonely as he loses his male friends and wingmen to marriage. With nothing to lose, Ben agrees to the plus-one partnership.

Jack Quaid and Maya Erskine have incredible chemistry 

A rom-com’s success hinges on the chemistry between the two leads. There has to be a genuine belief that the two characters could fall in love. It sounds simple, but more often than not, one of the leads typically outshines the other, leading to an ineffective rom-com. Not every pairing can be Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, or Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson.

“Plus One” hit a home run with Quaid and Erskine. Quaid, best known for playing Hughie in "The Boys," looks like the lead of a ‘90s rom-com — tall, funny, and handsome. Considering his parents are Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan, Quaid has the right genetics to be a leading man. 

Meanwhile, Erskine, who co-created the terrific Hulu series "Pen15," is the natural comedian in this partnership. As Alice, Erskine embodies the friend you want to drink with and the girl you strive to marry. She also gets the funniest bits, from her personal maintenance speech to her desire to cuddle after a long night. Plus, Alice uses “boom chakalaka” to describe special occasions, something we all should incorporate in our daily lives.

The movie takes off when Ben and Alice start their wedding journey together. As they navigate each ceremony, the longtime friends predictably develop feelings for one another. Ben’s sarcasm and optimism balance Alice’s vulgarity and sincerity to form a natural relationship. It’s believable that two people like Ben and Alice, with incredible chemistry, would romantically link up after spending so much time together.

‘Plus One’ is the perfect rom-com for Valentine's Day

Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid in Plus One

(Image credit: RLJE Films)

“Plus One” brings a fresh perspective to popular rom-com tropes — friends-to-lovers and a contract relationship. However, their relationship eventually hits an impasse when one refuses to commit. It’s a real issue many couples face, so seeing it onscreen hits home. 

Rom-com aficionados know a grand gesture is on the way to turn things around. Think of Julia Roberts’ “I’m Just a Girl” speech in “Notting Hill,” and Billy Crystal’s New Year's Eve declaration in “When Harry Met Sally…” “Plus One” gives the two leads a chance to say how they feel. Alice gets her moment on a sidewalk while Ben professes his feelings at his dad’s wedding. The speeches feel authentic, a credit to the writing from Chan and Rymer, and even better execution from Erskine and Quaid.

I first discovered “Plus One” on Hulu in 2019 and immediately loved it. Even with a small audience, "Plus One" had its supporters from critics and fans, with a certified fresh score of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now that Valentine's Day is here, give “Plus One” a try — easy to do now that it's on Netflix. Hopefully, the film gets the algorithmic push it deserves. If not, at least the film will introduce you to the breezy music of Real Estate.  

At under 100 minutes, “Plus One” is the ideal runtime. Yet, you will wish to spend more time with Ben and Alice once it ends. Who knows, maybe weddings are not so bad after all. Boom chakalaka.

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Dan Girolamo

Dan is a talented content creator who specializes in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. His entertainment interviews have been featured on Digital Trends, where he has spoken with various actors and entertainers, including Brendan Fraser, Alison Brie, and James Cameron. Additionally, Dan is a sportswriter with The Sports Daily, breaking down the top news in the NFL and NBA while providing picks and predictions for each league. Other bylines include, Unafraid Show, Fansided, and WatchMojo. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys rooting for his favorite New York sports teams and watching the latest movie from Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese.