Entertainment and Arts

‘Happiness for Beginners’ Flies the Flag for the Humble Rom-Com

By: Russ Matthews

One of the casualties of this modern era is the beloved romantic comedy. These quirky love stories have fallen out of favour and primarily find their existence on streaming services.

Still, they attempt to find their place in the hearts of those looking for a light-hearted and entertaining option. Netflix has taken up this mantle, for better or for worse, and the latest is the adaptation of Katherine Center’s novel, Happiness for Beginners.

After experiencing a difficult marriage and divorce, Helen (The Office’s Ellie Kemper) decides to rest her life by signing up for an introductory Appalachian Trail survivalist course. As she finds her way to the trail head, the single woman meets her hiking party, who comprise a diverse group of souls. Yet, the one that stands out is her brother’s best friend Jake (Yellowstone’s Luke Grimes), who is unexpectedly amongst the wilderness entourage. This leads to unexpected tensions as the hike presents the challenges that will either make or break their lives and relationships.

Happiness for Beginners movie

Happiness for Beginners has all of the trappings of the traditional rom-com, but this endearing story has something to offer those willing to travel along with this unlikely bunch of hikers. Kemper initially plays against type as her character is obviously bitter and unappealing until the journey forces her to dig her way out of despair. This is helped by Grimes’ winsome portrayal of the fortuitous love interest. Yet, the ensemble chemistry makes this stand out from the current offerings on the streaming service. The story has enough nuances to keep the viewer engaged until the final basecamp. Director Vicky Wight’s film may not be ground-breaking, but this heart-warming offering will satisfy the desire to find a fun and romantic date night option.

Reel Dialogue: Where Can you Find Happiness?

Ellie Kemper’s character epitomises our culture’s view of this world. So many people walk around with their eyes cast down, with no enthusiasm for life, and it manifests in a bitter disposition. Sure, life is hard, but is it really that bad? Did you know there is a remedy for this outlook on life?


It isn’t false hope, fake happiness, or Pollyanna disillusionment. No, it’s the joy that comes from God. His joy turns mourning into dancing; the one who takes off the ways of this broken world and clothes you with a new attitude.

You can have this joy today, turn away from worrying and fussing about everything, and find something to be joyful for in all God has given you. His joy will ultimately turn your day and life around for the better! God’s joy is where the real happiness for beginners can be found.

Happiness for Beginners movie

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12

If you want to discuss happiness and God, contact us at Third Space. We would love to chat about this and more.

Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

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