Scrolling through more Netflix originals this week, I came across a rom-com gem. “Happy Anniversary” follows 30-something-year-old couple Sam and Mollie, played by comedians Ben Schwartz and Noel Wells, on their three-year anniversary. The plot is fairly basic, yet what makes the film complex and enticing is the comedic writing, done by Jared Stern, and the on-point acting.
Within the first five minutes of the film, we see the morning routine of the couple, as Mollie is waking up all groggy. Sam then comes in and surprises her with her favorite scone and reveals that it’s their anniversary. Initially, this scene felt very overdone to me, watching the couple try to be cute together. Honestly, I was about to switch to another film if the cheesiness of the moment had kept up. Yet, Mollie interrupts the moment and declares she’s unhappy with their relationship, making the fake acting in that moment tolerable, adding to the conflict between the two.
The comedic timing for everything, combined with the quirky lines and remarks, kept me intrigued in everything that followed that moment and allowed the film to stand out among other rom-coms. Because Mollie sets up the plot, and what is to unfold right from the beginning of the film, we don’t know much about the couple. But the context for their story is unfolded through flashbacks of when they first met, or of their first date in an electronics store, making the viewer understand more and more why the couple is destined to be together after all.
“Happy Anniversary” is a rare film of its genre because it sincerely captures the conflict that comes when external forces try to put pressure on a relationship. The chemistry between Schwartz and Welles is also the biggest driving force of the film, and they play their parts perfectly. I wouldn’t say it’s a great film, per se, just because it has been done before, but I realized I was watching it for the characters and that was enough for me to rank it high in the rom-com genre.
If you’re looking for a feel-good film that you don’t have to give much brain power to, this is a great one to turn to. There’s nothing unique about the plot, but the acting and writing combination made it unique in that sense and made me want more of Schwartz and Welles and their quirky chemistry.
Rachel Blumberg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org