Mark Reviews Movies

HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE

1 ˝ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Josh Radnor

Cast: Josh Radnor, Malin Akerman, Michael Algieri, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Pablo Schreiber, Tony Hale

MPAA Rating: R (for language)

Running Time: 1:40

Release Date: 3/4/11 (limited); 3/11/11 (wider)


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Review by Mark Dujsik | March 10, 2011

The answer to a personal and professional rut in happythankyoumoreplease is kidnapping, as in, oh, that young child got separated from his guardian on the subway so I'm going to keep him with me. After all, the guy's already late for a very important meeting and going to the police would just make him even later. Apparently he's never heard of calling ahead and apologizing and explaining any extraordinary circumstances that might befall him on the way, like, say, I don't know, trying to help a lost child get back to his guardian.

"Sorry, I won't be able to make it because I'm filling out a police report about this young child who's without anyone else in the world right now, so could we please reschedule," he doesn't call to the office where he's heading, even though it probably would have saved him a rejection from a publisher and an arrest record. Then again, he wouldn't have gotten the girl, either. So maybe it's a wash?

Yes, it's one of those movies, where a kid teaches an alleged adult all about being a grownup, a woman his age lets him know that his love life of constant one-night stands isn't as fulfilling as it might seem in the moment, and the stories of a bunch of New Yorker friends in their late 20s, who are insecure about just about everything pertaining to their life at almost all times of the day and night, are intercut together. In the end, the guy learns that kidnapping is all right, as long as you have good intentions and your best friend's sort-of boyfriend works in the legal department of their office. That's not the main takeaway, obviously, but in terms of movie-world logic, it's the one that stands out.

The guy is Sam, a down-on-his-luck writer (Is there any other kind?) played by writer/director Josh Radnor. His best friend Annie (Malin Akerman), a woman with problems choosing a good man and who has alopecia universalis, has to call him in the morning to remind him of that very important meeting with a publisher, since he's completely helpless on his own.

Along the way is when he meets Rasheen (Michael Algieri), a quiet kid who doesn't have parents and has been in and out of multiple foster homes. Through his own lack of common sense, Sam ends up letting Rasheen stay at his apartment but not before using the kid to hit on a bartender named Mississippi (Kate Mara, and yes, her character comes from the Magnolia State) he eyed on the street earlier that day. Clearly, he will question everything that happens with her.

Also in the mix are Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and Charlie (Pablo Schreiber). He wants them to move out to Los Angeles, so he can partner up with a friend whose start-up business is taking off. She's sick one morning, so we can anticipate the inevitable visit to the gynecologist for some life-changing news. Also, she helps Sam pick out art supplies for the innately artistic Rasheen after warning him that what he's doing is indeed kidnapping. It's an act that she considers a good deed but that the police would probably define as aiding and abetting.

Mary Catherine's eventual revelation to Charlie, after a constant stream of outward and passive-aggressive hostility on both their parts, is one of a handful of moments where some real humanity emerge from out of the mire of self-doubt and self-prophesied conflict. Radnor, who spends most of the movie filming in close-up, leaves the announcement silent—as a not-so-secret whisper between lovers—and lets the couple's reaction drive the scene.

Then there's a different Sam, who insists he be called Sam #2 (Tony Hale), the man from legal at Annie's work who has a crush on her. He makes unannounced visits to her floor, where he photographs her and hints at possibly going out some time. It's a role that could unnerve, but Hale somehow lends it a sense of genuine caring. It's particularly helpful to two scenes, one in which he quotes partially from the title to request another date with Annie and another in which he breaks her barrier of bull to say why she should give him a chance to love her. They could be obnoxious and aggressively egotistical scenes respectively, but they are actually kind of sweet.

Sam has his own such moment in the back of a squad car—some fatherly words for the kid who's been sleeping on his couch for a week. These very few and far between scenes are the highlight of the otherwise phony reality of happythankyoumoreplease.

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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