Happily parents guide

Happily Parent Guide

A strange but somehow interesting mix of comedy, sci-fi, and thriller elements, this movie is burdened with negative content.

Overall D

Digital on Demand: Tom and Janet have a very passionate marriage, much to the irritation of their other married friends. But a tense couple's trip, a mysterious stranger, and a corpse give rise to questions about just how friendly the other couples are.

Release date March 19, 2021

Violence C
Sexual Content D
Profanity D
Substance Use D

Why is Happily rated R? The MPAA rated Happily R for sexual content, language throughout and brief violence.

Run Time: 95 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Even 14 years of marriage hasn’t dimmed the spark between Tom (Joel McHale) and Janet. In fact, the couple are so obviously amorous that it fuels no small amount of envy and resentment among their friends. So much so that the pair have been disinvited from a weekend getaway with a few other couples. If only social exclusion their biggest problem…

Things heat up when a mysterious stranger (Stephen Root) arrives at their home and insists that they are, effectively, broken people. He claims that he represents a “higher authority” and demands that Tom and Janet agree to take a strange, glowing injection which will allegedly make them more like the other couples they know. Their refusal to take the injection and his refusal to leave leads to a violent altercation…and then the phone rings. It seems that their friends, Val (Paul Scheer) and Karen (Natalia Zea) have had second thoughts about uninviting them to the getaway. Now Tom and Janet have a secret to keep while spending a weekend with four nosy couples.

I wasn’t sure what I expected this movie to be, but it certainly did not conform to my vague preliminary notions. Thanks to the trailer, I was bracing myself for an exceptionally raunchy sex comedy – which it isn’t. Although sex is a central plot element, almost every instance of intimacy on screen is between a married couple and all sex is portrayed briefly and without explicit nudity. If it weren’t for the sheer volume of sexual content, the individual scenes could probably sneak into a hard PG-13 rating. Since there’s so much sexual material, the Restricted rating is appropriate.

If this isn’t a raunchy sex comedy, what is it? Well, that’s a good question. Comedy is certainly a part of the equation, but Happily is very dark for a comedy. Strange sci-fi and thriller elements throughout certainly kept me guessing, and while the integration isn’t always perfect, it stays interesting – for me, at least. The comedy is usually dry, which I prefer, and the sci-fi is largely a background element, which in this case, I strongly prefer.

Obviously, Happily this isn’t going to provide a cheery viewing experience for everyone. Family audiences are pretty much right out due to the profanity alone (almost 5 dozen sexual expletives), drug use, and sexual content. Date night suitability is going to hinge largely on whether you think you are Tom and Janet (in which case maybe you shouldn’t be dating each other) or whether you’re one of their friends (in which case this might be a bit too much). If you’re looking for a date night movie or a film to watch with friends, you might want something that won’t have you looking around nervously at anyone who’s reaching for your popcorn.

Directed by BenDavid Grabinski. Starring Joel McHale, Kerry Bishe, and Stephen Root. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release March 19, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Happily

Rating & Content Info

Why is Happily rated R? Happily is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content, language throughout and brief violence.

Violence: A man is struck in the head and killed, mostly off-screen. A person is involuntarily pricked with a needle. A character is electrocuted. A person is shown with injuries sustained from domestic abuse. Someone is shot in the head and killed.
Sexual Content: There are frequent sex scenes, none of which include nudity, and all but one of which are between a married couple. These include having sex in some unusual (and occasionally dangerous) semi-public locations. There is one scene depicting adultery and references to other infidelities from a variety of characters. Characters are occasionally shown from the shoulders up in the shower, and one scene briefly depicts male posterior nudity in a non-sexual context.
Profanity: There are 59 uses of extreme profanity and 29 uses of scatological profanity. There are also occasional terms of deity and mild profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult characters are shown drinking frequently and heavily. Some are portrayed as under the influence of marijuana, and one character is shown smoking weed. Some adults are seen smoking cigarettes.

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Happily Parents' Guide

A fairly similar (if rather more gruesome) alternative is The Rental, starring Dan Stevens and Alison Brie. A goofier (and still more murderous) option is Clue, starring Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, and Madeline Kahn. Speaking of Tim Curry, there’s also significant crossover with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, weird sex and couples names (Brad and Janet, in this case) included.

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This movie shares some strange similarities with the novel And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, albeit with considerably less murder.