After 14 years of marriage, what kind of couple has sex at least once a day? Probably, in the real world, a jobless one, but never mind that. In “Happily,” Tom (Joel McHale) writes at home and Janet (Kelly Bishé) works at an office, but yes, they (vigorously!) enjoy intimate relations with unusual frequency in this feature debut by the writer-director BenDavid Grabinski. When a bathroom is occupied for an unusual amount of time during a party, the hosts know exactly who’s hogging the private space and why. Consequently, Tom and Janet’s friends, and especially those party hosts (played by Paul Scheer and Natalie Zea), hate them.
Two events rattle Tom and Janet’s bliss. First, a home visit from a mysterious stranger played by Stephen Root. Acting as a kind of cosmic overseer, he informs the couple that they’re biological/metaphysical anomalies and demands they submit to his cure. This visit ends badly for him. Then the pair bounces from being disinvited and reinvited to a weekend getaway hosted by another couple of hater friends, and attended by distinctly discontented duos.
For a while it’s fun to be kept off-balance, wondering whether the movie is some kind of allegory or, as seems more likely, that the cosmic overseer visit was a prank engineered by one of those friends. Either way, since the visit, Tom and Janet are troubled — by guilt, by dreams, by temptations never experienced before.
Grabinski has both wit and energy, and these qualities, along with a game cast, help keep “Happily” afloat for far longer than most made-in-L.A. dark domestic comedies. But the movie wants to do too many things, and grows diffuse. This is a not uncommon glitch with first features; one hopes and expects Grabinski will deliver something more focused next time.
Rated R for themes, language, excessive marital bliss. Running time: 1 hour 36 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Vudu, FandangoNow and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.
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