Are you happy and in love? do you and your partner feel your relationship is going to continue? There are many questions that go through couples minds when it comes to their relationship. Being in one for so long could start to show signs of deterioration or it could just be a phase. Sometimes, the best option is to give each other space before you move onto the next phase of your relationship.
Having previous experience writing hit comedies such as The Internship (2013) and The Lego Batman Movie (2017), Jared Stern tries his hand at writing and directing his own with Happy Anniversary. Being his directorial debut, this Netflix Original seems to bring promise with its casting of two, up and coming actors in Noël Wells and Ben Schwartz. Seemingly looking like a great partnership based on looks but needing to impress on chemistry.
Happy Anniversary takes an in-depth look at Sam (Ben Schwartz) and Mollie’s (Noël Wells) loving 3-year relationship. However, being together for so long can start to bring on new thoughts and their next steps looming in the background. On their 3 year anniversary, Mollie insinuates that she would like to take a break away from Sam. Mutually, they come to the decision to part ways, but Sam finds it difficult to process. Do they decide to stay together or do they call it quits?
A simple and unique narrative. Taking it back to the basics. No hidden sub-plots. No ridiculous, extravagant characters. Just a couple trying to figure out their relationship status. Nowadays, in my opinion, filmmakers seem to forget the simplistic and go for the complicated. This is what I enjoyed about Jared Stern’s direction and writing. A surprising achievement for his directorial debut. Nonetheless, he still has a way to go and there is a lot of room for improvement.
As for the on-screen couple, Noël Wells and Ben Schwartz have both had comedic experiences. With Schwartz being in the hit series Parks and Recreation (2010-15) and Wells having been in Netflix’s Master of None (2015-17), Stern’s sit-com comedy styled script fits right in with their acting skills. Having accurately written a dismaying couple’s relationship, both portrayed the characters with ease, bouncing off of each other like they had been together for years, 3 years to be exact. A believable, relatable and comedic performance from them both.
It’s a script that has been written from experience. Jared Stern knew what he was talking about, pushing a message out to those who may be experiencing the same feelings with their loved ones. Subliminally asking them the same question; are you happy? Netflix is the perfect platform to display this message. On those nights with your boyfriend/girlfriend chilling and watching Netflix, Stern is telling you to think about your happiness and yourself first. Don’t be afraid to question, otherwise, you’ll be stuck you may not want yourself.
Overall, a subtly comedic and thought-provoking performance from the on-screen couple. Jared Stern has a lot to learn in terms of his direction in the near future but for a first hand go at directing, being thrown into the deep-end was probably the best option. He has the writing element down to a tee but needs to improve. Over-time, with more possibilities to direct now coming his way, I believe he is a prospect to be looking at.