The Moya View

Happiness for Beginners: From About Schmidt to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt


Summary via IMDB:

A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It’s supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother’s even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can’t imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster.



Most Netflix romantic comedies follow some variation of Eat Pray Love. In Happiness for Beginners, an amiable and inoffensive heart tugger, starring Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), it’s Eat Pray Hike.


Kemper— in a departure from her usual optimistic, funny, bright-eyed women that she’s played in the past— is a divorced grump seeking self discovery, and a life changing experience via joining a group hike that is doing the beginners part of the Appalachian Trail. The trek from doubting Debby Downer to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is a natural evolution for Kemper to pull off. It’s a hike to her inevitable Netflix destiny. It’s the origin and happy ending story she would write for herself.


The big life changing experience here is Jake (Luke Grimes), the long time overlooked love of her life existing in platonic shadows. And oh, she has really been Kimmy Schmidt all along. Or, at least it seems.


Happiness is pretty streamlined. The budget apparently doesn’t include room for any animal adventures. Broken bones and campfire confessions are the entertainment and plot drivers. An overconfident hunk, a self deprecating gay man, a naïve blonde influencer, and a black female optimist life coach are the stereotypes that exist as both chorus and prodders that encourage Kemper to love Grimes, the hunk that has always loved her. Thankfully, Kemper and Grimes have enough chemistry to keep this puff afloat.


True to its family comedy roots, Happiness stays resolutely polite. There are no grand gestures or raunchy humor here. There is poetry cribbed from a famous love sonnet of Pablo Neruda. Kemper, playing a former English teacher, never catches on to this bit of plagiarism until Grimes confesses that it wasn’t written by him. It’s an example of Happiness always apologizing for its own tenderness.


Happiness for Beginners gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.



Directed by

Vicky Wight

Screenplay by

Vicky Wight

Based on

Happiness for Beginners

by Katherine Center

Produced by

  • Geoff Linville
  • Vicky Wight
  • Barry Meyerowitz



Daniel Vecchione

Edited by

Suzanne Spangler

Music by

Sherri Chung



Cranetown Media

Distributed by


Release date

  • July 27, 2023


United States








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