Sanitized, predictable, and utterly cheesy, Happiness for Beginners feels like one of those TV movies made to fill the time in between the stuff people actually watch. It’s baffling how wasted Kemper is here; the actress’ signature pep, which was fully utilized in shows like The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is nowhere to be found. She plays a grump who, by the sheer power of love and friendship, transforms into a happier person, but even then we see no trace of Kemper’s infectious energy. It was hinted that Kemper’s character, Helen, struggles with depression, but the film is either unwilling or incapable of digging further and offering Helen actual solutions, like therapy or medicine. The movie’s saving grace is the ensemble behind Kemp, who thankfully are able to exercise their comic chops. Nico Santos, Ben Cook, and Gus Birney deserve a special mention for their full-bodied and entertaining performances.
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Romance
Actor: Ben Cook, Ellie Kemper, Esteban Benito, Gus Birney, Luke Grimes
Director: Vicky Wight