Friday, October 13, 2023

Netflix’s ‘Happiness for Beginners’ a feel-good story about challenging yourself

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-14
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Helen and Mike have been divorced for six years and Mike is having a harder time letting go. He calls and texts Helen more frequently than she would like. Helen decides she needs to challenge herself and signs up for a wilderness survival course, where they hike part of the Appalachian Trail. Along the way she learns more about what she is capable of and even runs into an old friend of her brother’s, who she may have underestimated.

“Happiness for Beginners” stars Ellie Kemper, Luke Grimes, Nico Santos, Blythe Danner, Ben Cook, Shayvawn Webster, Julia Shiplett, Gus Birney, Esteban Benito, and Alexander Koch.

Helen (Kemper) sits alone at a party while groups of people dance around her. She gets a text from her ex-husband, Mike from whom she has been divorced for six years.

Helen is planning a wilderness survival tour of part of the Appalachian Trail because she feels she is stuck in a rut and wants to stop breaking promises to herself.

At this party, she runs into Jake (Grimes), her brother’s best friend. Jake says he remembers when she used to be fun. She insists she’s still fun.

Helen has experienced a lot of grief and loss over her life.

When she starts orientation for the hike, it has a real motley crew of hikers. Their trail leader, Beckett (Cook) is more than a little intense. Helen realizes that one of the hikers is Jake.

Starting out, Beckett points out a lot of the things Helen does wrong.

As the hike goes on (it’s multiple days and nights) Jake and Helen bond. After more time, Jake admits a hard truth to her.

When a hiker gets injured and breaks their leg, it’s Helen who helps him and makes her way back to basecamp to alert the rest of the hikers and Beckett.

She heads home a little better than when she left. But what about Jake? They had a connection during their time hiking the Appalachian Trail, but what does all that mean? Could Helen have underestimated Jake? What’s next?

After my last review, I was looking for something lighter and more upbeat and I definitely found it. This is based on the book of the same name by Catherine Center. I should have noticed from the movie’s poster this was a romantic comedy. However, it’s not an overly lovey-dovey movie. It can be heavy at times, but I found it very positive, uplifting, while being a bit funny, too. The soundtrack is a good one. Aside from the romance aspect of the movie, the characters who go on this adult hike of the Appalachian Trail are looking to make a change or prove something to themselves. They discover people are more than the sum of their parts. I’d recommend this movie.

Two water bottles up.

Now streaming on Netflix. <

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