The last sentence of a summary I read for Josh Radnor’s directorial debut read, “Radnor wrote and directed this comedy, which won the Best Drama Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.” Immediately, before I had even put the film in my DVD player I had a smile on my face. To be a comedy, and a drama is as contrasting as two genres can get; but for some reason they just meld perfectly together. Happythankyoumoreplease left me happy, thankful, and wanting more… please.
Josh Radnor is most famous for his role as Ted Mosby, the twenty-something architect and lead character of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother. In some ways you could say this film is an extension of different threads from that show, but it is also much more than that. Sure, he may be a twenty-something guy living in Manhattan looking for love, but that is just a layer. Right under that first layer is a quirky, romantic, comedy, drama.
Happythankyoumoreplease takes three separate stories from three separate people, who all know each other, and captures a moment in their lives; the moment where they learn what life is all about. Without getting too philosophical or up in your face about morals, the film elates and warms your heart as you see these characters become the people you know they’re capable of being.
The story begins with Sam (Josh Radnor) rushing to meet with a publisher for his first full-length novel. While riding the subway he encounters Rasheen (Michael Algieri) a foster kid, running away from his foster family. Sam elects himself to take care of the boy until he figures out what to do with him. It seems like a fairly typical beginning to a self-discovery indie film, but I didn’t mind it because Radnor was able to do something different than the standard plot.
Sam also meets a girl named Mississippi (Kate Mara) who he asks to have a three-night stand with. It sounds odd (and it is), but there is something adorable about it as well. They play house and get to know each other, they have their ups and downs faster than a normal couple. Yes, it tends to fall under the typical plot of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, but the characters and the story help you care enough about them so the plot is worth it. They have chemistry and it works.
Then there is Sam’s best friend Annie (Malin Akerman) who is cynical against men, always seeming to fall for the wrong ones. She doesn’t think she deserves commitment and struggles to be comfortable with herself. She meets a man named Sam #2 (since there are two Sam’s in the film) played by Tony Hale who wants to love her, despite her misgivings. Their tale is touching, even if it starts off in a semi-creepy stalkerish way where Sam #2 is always taking pictures of her. Of course, what relationship doesn’t have its awkward moments?
Sam’s semi-cousin/friend of the family, Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) deals with growing up, leaving home, and the surprises along the way. She tends to be a voice of reason and a voice of chaos. You don’t always know what is going on in her head and I loved every minute. She brought out most of the non-typical drama and ran away with it. It was so refreshing to see her in her head most of the film as the drama built up in her head until she exploded full force in the most powerful scene of the film.
Minus a few issues with the pacing during the first act, Happythankyoumoreplease blew by. There were a couple of times when characters would regurgitate dialogue heard in the previous scene, as if there were two different drafts of a scene left in the script, but I didn’t necessarily mind when I liked the conversations they were having.
While it was not the most revolutionary in the genre, it allowed me to sit back and live a moment with characters I enjoyed. There are moments when I laughed, moments when I was sad, moments when I felt what these characters were feeling. I attribute those moments to the clever writing of Josh Radnor who seems to understand how people speak, and not how screenwriters tend to think people speak.
I really loved the film. I don’t say that about most romantic dramedies, but for this one I can easily recommend people find a copy. Indie films where you may know what is coming but you actually care how they get there are a breath of fresh air, especially at the time of this writing when I can’t seem to care for most of the characters in recent films I’ve seen. I hope to see more from Radnor in the future, he has more talent than people seem to give him credit for. Happythankyoumoreplease is a fantastic film that will allow you to live with interesting people and how they learn to love. If you want to be happy, see it. There is a great message about life that just brings a smile to your face. So, go rent/buy this film. Go experience life. Go get yourself loved.
The Good: Likeable characters, great writing.
The Bad: Couple of moments seemed to circle back on themselves as if there were two different drafts of a scene.
The Ugly: More films don’t do the things that Happythankyoumoreplease does so very well.
Score: 8.75 out of 10