‘Happiness for Beginners’ is a feel-good Netflix film.


Mother Nature does wild stuff.

Released to Netflix in 2023, Happiness for Beginners is set around a group of amateur hikers who sign up for a wilderness survival course to reconnect with themselves. As they rediscover their dreams and inner happiness, Helen and Jake discover a reluctant romance.

Happiness for Beginners is one of those feel-good films that contains a restorative message about reconnecting with yourself. The film pursues the usual story and character cliches, but Happiness for Beginners is a meaningful film that we all need if we’re feeling lost.

I guessed that this was going to be a character film and I was right. The characters provide the usual stereotypes that you see in every typical ensemble film. Nonetheless, they do have depth. They are taking this hike for a reason. The characters have meaningful conversations with one another, finding what they have in common.

Helen (Ellie Kemper) finds this survival course pointless from the beginning. I didn’t like her negative attitude but she’s been through a relatable dilemma. Kemper delivered a significant monologue that cements her character’s weight on her shoulders.

What would this film be without two rivals discovering they have romantic feelings for one another? And can you take a guess at what the cute male love interest’s name is? Jake. Don’t get me wrong, Jake is a great name, it’s just been overused as the male crush’s name. Kemper and Luke Grimes were believable in their frenemy-to-lovers timeline.

Beckett (Ben Cook) is an over-enthusiastic trail guide but there’s more to him than that. One of my favorite scenes is Helen coming to talk to Beckett during a quiet moment on the trip.

Hugh (Nico Santos) is the best character. More credits include Shayvawn Webster, Julia Shiplett, Gus Birney, Blythe Danner, and Estaban Benito. Some actors did a good job in their performances while others had weak line delivery. Certain characters weren’t completely finished in development.

The dialogue is strong. Writers studied what the characters would talk about. You can have a conversation about anything, especially on a hike.

The location shots are beautiful. Well done to the filmmakers for finding picturesque forests. Most of the setting was filmed in Mianus River Park in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut. I know if I went on this trip I’d take collages of pictures of all the beautiful trees surrounding the lakes.

You never know what you’ll discover in Mother Nature. I used to go on numerous hiking trips. After watching this film I’d like to start hiking again. Adventures in nature help you learn to reconnect. And we also learn survival skills. Now I understand why I should never step directly on a log.

The film is predictable but that doesn’t mean it’s not original. Some scenes feel overly sentimental, and certain plot developments lack subtlety. We’ve seen these stories but what do they signify? Starting over is an option. Vicky Wright brings us a film about learning to find what makes us happy.

When I thought about the story again, Happiness for Beginners is a film about positivity because not everyone has an easy time finding happiness, especially in adulthood. As much as I like to stay positive, I have to remind myself of what makes me happy. Help anybody who is having a difficult time. Sometimes a little encouragement and support is all they need.

Happiness for Beginners is a predictable cliche film but it’s worth putting it on your watch list. It’s uplifting, entertaining and it is funny. Find it and watch the film on Netflix.

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