Songstress Ashanti takes on a lead role and teams up with comedian Cedric The Entertainer for E-One Entertainment's new romantic comedy, The Plus One. Erik White directs the film, and Brendan Bradley and Austin Highsmith Garces write the screenplay. The story revolves around a couple, Lizzie (played by Ashanti) and Luke (played by B.J. Britt), who want to have a dream destination wedding. Lizzie's father, Alfred (played by Cedric the Entertainer), and her mother, Debbie (played by Michelle Hurd), support their daughter's wedding plans.
However, her carefully laid plans are thrown into disarray when her "man-of-honor," Marshall (Jonathan Bennett), brings his "ex-from-hell," Marie (Cassandra Scerbo) as his plus one. As soon as Marie shows up, a series of unfortunate events occur. Lizzie's loved ones must unite to prevent her from losing her sanity, as her dream of a perfect ending is threatened.
When I watched the trailer for The Plus One, I knew I had to approach the movie with an open mind. I was excited to see Cedric The Entertainer in action, but the preview had a few questionable moments. Ashanti, the lead actress, may not be known for her acting abilities, but she has shown potential in the past (such as her role on Army Wives). Additionally, the director, Erik White, has a talent for creating visually stunning music videos for artists like Luke James and Flo Rida. However, his previous film, The Trap, was criticized for relying on stereotypes.
Usually, with a romantic comedy involving the wedding as a backdrop, I know what to expect and don't give them a hard time. Unfortunately, Brendan Bradley and Austin Highsmith Garces's script for the film is full of numerous missteps that teeter the movie towards a Lifetime quality. Ashanti does what she can with the material, and I will give the writers credit for avoiding turning the character into a bridezilla.
Her character generally has a warm demeanor, so we want to see her get a happy ending. I must acknowledge that the film did not thoroughly explore Lizzie's character development. Consequently, the audience has minimal information about her except that she is engaged. Her job, age, and how she met her fiancé remains a mystery.
The superficiality of the character development is apparent in Luke and the remaining characters. Viewers cannot fully invest in their relationships or comprehend the intricacies between them due to the absence of personal information beyond their wedding day. Marshall and Lizzie's long friendship is only referred to by other characters, not portrayed on screen.
The usually reliable Cedric The Entertainer is wasted, delivering no funny lines and instead turning in a dumbed-down version of himself. The biggest insult in the film is Cassandra
Scerbo as Marie. Her performance is that of a "Karen," and her first disrespectful moment would be grounds for a beat down from the bride.
The saving grace of the film was Michelle Hurd's enjoyable performance as the mother of the bride and Julissa Bermudez's stunning portrayal of the bride's second-best friend. It's fresh air to see a romantic comedy with a primarily Black cast playing the lead couple and their families, all portrayed by skilled Black actors. The script avoids the usual cliches and stereotypes used for easy laughs, which is a welcome change. However, it's unfortunate that the content has little depth or substance.
Nevertheless, I'm sure there is an audience for The Plus One, but as a rom-com fan, this stream is not worth an RSVP.
Final Grade: C-
The Plus One is in limited theaters now, on digital, and on-demand tomorrow.