Happily begins with an amusing premise. Friends of Tom (Joel McHale) and Janet (Kerry Biche) are frustrated that the long-married husband and wife continue to act like newlyweds. They can't go more than a few hours without making love, even sneaking off during a party to get it on. Particularly disgusted by the non-stop displays of affection are pals Karen (Natalie Zea) and Val (Paul Scheer). It's unnatural, they claim. It's freakish!
Apparently, they aren't alone in that assessment. One afternoon, a strange man named Goodman (Stephen Root) shows up at Tom and Janet's home. He appears to be an official from some kind of shadowy government agency. Goodman tells them that there's been a “mistake,” so he needs to inject them with a mysterious green substance that will make them “normal” like every other married couple. He even offers a large sum of money if they will consent to the injection.
The couple refuses and escapes with the syringes. From there, they go to a weekend retreat with Karen, Val, and several other couples. Inside the luxurious getaway mansion, Tom and Janet try to figure out whether Goodman's claims were real or if it was just one of the gang pulling an elaborate prank on them. The suspects are many, including superficial Patricia (Natalie Morales), angry womanizer Richard (Breckin Meyer), and Donald (Jon Daly), a surly guy who doesn't even attempt to hide his disdain for Tom.
I'm leaving an important plot point out, so this would be a good time to mention that Happily has one toe in the realm of science-fiction. Of course, no actual person would ever believe claims like the one Goodman makes. For the story's purposes, though, the viewer is asked to consider the possibility that he could be telling the truth. Doing so helps infuse the movie with humor, allowing it to examine how passions often cool over the course of a marriage. Tom and Janet's non-stop erotic adventures are hilariously contrasted with the much less erotic ones of their couple friends, most of whom seem unhappy with their partners.
Writer/director BenDavid Grabinski bounces the characters off one another in funny, revealing ways. There's also a lot of sharp dialogue that helps us see the various layers these people have. Not everyone speaks their mind openly, yet it's always clear where they're coming from. The stellar cast does uniformly good work. Joel McHale is known for being funny – and he doesn't disappoint here – but the surprise is Kerry Bishe. She hits all the right notes of comic bewilderment, conveying Janet's sense of panic in the midst of this bizarre situation.
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, making the movie a clever comedy that asks, “What's so weird about loving your spouse?”
out of four
Happily is rated R for sexual content, language throughout and brief violence. The running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes.