HAPPILY (2021) Reviews and overview of dark comedy

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‘A killer romantic comedy.’

Happily is a 2021 American dark comedy film about a seemingly perfect couple whose visit by a stranger leads to murder and an Airbnb party.

Written and directed by BenDavid Grabinski, the Common Wall Media-Electric Dynamite-Indy Entertainment production stars Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Stephen Root (The Empty Man; Bad Milo!), Natalie Zea, Paul Scheer and Brea Grant (The StylistAfter MidnightBad Apples).


Tom (Joel McHale) and Janet (Kerry Bishé) have been happily married for years. However, a visit from a mysterious stranger leads to a dead body, a lot of questions, and a tense couples’ trip with friends who may not actually be friends at all…


“Happily grows a bit self-serious in the last act, as it tries to say something deep about marital unhappiness. The ending isn’t bad, it just feels like a dark comedic wrap-up more in line with the overall tone of the story would have been a better fit. An abundance of laughs and the great work from the cast hold everything together, though…” The Aisle Seat

“Grabinksi likes to play with surreal touches and dry humor, casting a few comedians to add some improvisational energy to the picture. It’s not always focused on the problems at hand, but Happily doesn’t unravel, remaining an inviting puzzle of dark events and interpersonal hostilities, with the material always better off with real feelings instead of self-conscious strangeness.” Blu-ray.com

Happily is a diverting dark comedy, even if it ultimately isn’t especially gratifying […] So while the movie doesn’t ultimately feel as rewarding as many of its elements suggest it should be, it is still a worthwhile experience for fans of the actors or curious dark comedy buffs.” Film Racket Movie Reviews

“In the end, despite several narrative subplots never reaching their apex, watching McHale and Bush navigate the wild terrain laid for them salvages those minor setbacks. It doesn’t always paint a gorgeous, coherent picture, but Grabinski’s unique style promises a bright directorial career lies ahead.” The Only Critic

Happily isn’t a bloody film by any means but its suspense and mystery will keep you at the edge of your seat. Some outcomes are expected and you’re just waiting for them to get revealed. Meanwhile, others totally surprised me. Either way, you’ll be rooting for Joel and Kerry’s characters from beginning to end.” Pop Horror

“writer/director BenDavid Grabinski states a desire to combine an oddball rom-com with The Twilight Zone. He really had an intriguing concept for the first part of that genre mash, but in expanding the second to include four other couples he’s let his film slide off the rails. Happily […] starts off really well and promises to keep us guessing only to spiral into pointlessness.” Reeling Reviews

“There’s a surreal, dreamlike quality throughout, with bursts of violence and bad behavior. But while Grabinski certainly deserves credit for his ambition, the juggling act he’s attempting gets away from him, and “Happily” ultimately ends up being more frustrating than dazzling.” RogerEbert.com

Cast and characters:

Kerry Bishé … Janet
Jon Daly … Donald
Brea Grant
Kirby Howell-Baptiste … Maude
Al Madrigal … Arthur
Joel McHale … Tom
Breckin Meyer … Richard
Natalie Morales … Patricia – The Little Things; Santa Clarita Diet series
Stephen Root … Goodman
Paul Scheer … Val
Billie Wolff … Waitress
Shannon Woodward … Carla
Charlyne Yi … Gretel
Natalie Zea … Karen

Technical details:

96 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1

Fun facts:

The Airbnb the couples stay in has only one movie available – Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958)

One character wears a ‘Cronenberg for President’ t-shirt.

The soundtrack includes songs by The Cramps (‘Garbageman’), Nick Cave (‘People Ain’t No Good’), Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (‘Enola Gay’) and Public Image Ltd (‘The Order of Death’).


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