Happy Anniversary (2018) – Review

Happy Anniversary is available to stream on Netflix beginning March 30th.

By Matthew Parkinson

Love is a great Netflix show that recently concluded its three-season run. It’s about a couple of people who start dating and go through trials and tribulations that might break them apart. Now the streaming service has a new movie, Happy Anniversary, that is basically a short, sanitized version of Love. Unfortunately, it lacks the depth, intrigue, and humor of that show.

The two leads are Mollie (Noël Wells) and Sam (Ben Schwartz), and it’s their three-year anniversary. In the morning, Mollie declares she’s not happy. The rest of the film sees them apart for more time than they are together, talking over their problems with friends and flashing back to key moments of the relationship over the past three years. They have to decide whether to stay together or break up, because if you don’t “know” after three years, it’s probably going to wind up being the latter.

Their problems aren’t all that interesting. Mollie won’t “let herself” be happy, Sam claims, while Sam … just doesn’t make Mollie happy, she says. It’s ill-defined why they aren’t currently working. Neither is a bad person and they don’t dislike each other. They have a strong chemistry. And while Sam believes that life with Mollie is exciting—even if it does have many ups and downs—we don’t see much of that. Their relationship is a pretty dull movie relationship, which might be part of the point but doesn’t make or the most engaging watch.

Yes, Happy Anniversary is aiming to be a realistic movie. Its characters are more like the people you’d run into every day, and their problems are, overall, pretty small. The problem here is not this approach but the execution. We’re kept at arms’ length from these people. They’re not the couple we get to know intimately; they’re the people you meet a couple of times a year and only get a vague sense of who they even are. The movie only runs for 80 minutes or so, which isn’t enough time to build them up, even if the dull flashbacks hope to accomplish that task.

Happy Anniversary lacks the intimacy and depth to involve us in its central romance.

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