Happy Anniversary is a rom-com with erratic behaviour. Jumpy storytelling and unlikable characters make this movie hard to warm up to, but some solid laughs makes this pill easier to swallow.
A three-year anniversary goes awry when a happy couple finds out that they’re not so happy after all. Mollie (Noël Wells) is the first to confess, which gives Sam (Ben Schwartz) a different perspective of his relationship. The audience, however, can clearly see these two are not meant for each other. Mollie and Sam’s blow-ups alone are inappropriate enough to make any human being feel unappreciated. We see fleeting evidence of their love – through flashbacks and through spontaneous decisions – and they have some amusing banter when they’re being sarcastic with each other, but they usually snap back into their own abusive neuroses.
They eventually take a break from each other. She visits her parents (Annie Potts, Joe Pantoliano), and he rants to his friend/business partner (Rahul Kohli) as a meeting approaches later that day. The meeting is with a stone-faced investor named Willa. She’s played by Kristin Bauer van Straten, who is easily the best part of Happy Anniversary. By underplaying the emotions behind Willa’s hardened exterior, Straten ends up stealing each of her scenes.
Happy Anniversary is written and directed by Jared Stern, who marks this film as his directorial debut and adds another mediocre script to his past work (The Internship, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, The Watch). Before tackling another script, Stern really needs to brush up on cohesiveness and continuity. Some scenes are used as shortcuts, which is a messy move that effects the story’s logic, and the flashbacks are too abrupt to find proper context. Stern’s low-key style is on par with the average indie, but he maneuvers through this story as if he’s flipping a light switch on-and-off.
There’s not much else to discuss about Happy Anniversary. It employed some actors and filmmakers and, at 78 minutes, it’s a marginal distraction for at-home audiences. In the end, this is just another disposable statistic in the grand scheme of the Netflix’s rapid release plan. Just be happy the film made you laugh and wait for next week’s Netflix Original.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie