Review: Ellie Kemper’s Heartwarming Journey in Netflix Rom-Com ‘Happiness for Beginners’

Ellie Kemper

The movie “Happiness for Beginners” on Netflix seems like a quirky romantic comedy. Helen, a woman in her thirties, goes on a wilderness survival course to recover from her divorce. Will she find hope, confidence, and love?

The film should have followed the usual rom-com formula, where Helen finds peace in nature, forms bonds with other campers, and falls in love. However, it takes a different path, trying to blend sitcom and drama elements, but not fully committing to either. As a result, the movie feels disjointed and lacking in depth.

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Helen, played by Ellie Kemper, wants to reset her life after divorcing Mike. At a house party, she reflects on her past and her upcoming hiking trip. She meets Jake, her brother’s friend, who points out that she used to be more fun. This comment haunts Helen throughout the film, making us wonder about her past.

The movie then shifts to the wilderness course, where Helen and Jake join other hikers. The film turns into a sitcom, showing the daily happenings of their hike. While the various characters get some attention, Helen’s story feels underdeveloped.

Her relationship with Jake lacks emotional depth and comes across as stiff and polite. As they navigate their feelings, the film fails to give their romance the spark it needs. We are left wondering who Helen really is and who she wants to become.

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The film briefly touches on themes of self-discovery, but it could have delved deeper into Helen’s character and motivations. Despite some beautiful scenes in nature, “Happiness for Beginners” falls short of its potential.

Instead of fully exploring Helen’s journey, the film attempts to be a sitcom, focusing on the hikers’ daily experiences during the two-week hike. It introduces a variety of characters with different personalities, but this takes away from developing Helen’s narrative.

Furthermore, her relationship with Jake lacks the emotional depth needed for a compelling romance. It feels forced and lacks chemistry, leaving us unsatisfied with their story. The film fails to address Helen’s past, leaving her character underdeveloped and leaving viewers guessing about her true self.

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Although the movie touches on themes of self-discovery, it misses the opportunity to delve deeper into Helen’s growth and transformation. The potential for a more meaningful exploration of her journey is lost in the film’s attempt to balance sitcom and drama elements.

In conclusion, “Happiness for Beginners” falls short of being a memorable romantic comedy. While it has its charming moments and some beautiful outdoor scenes, the film struggles to find a cohesive identity and develop its main character. With a more focused approach, the movie could have delivered a more satisfying and heartfelt story.