‘HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE’: an Indie Romance Comedy Done Right

Posted by Jon Wiener on February 10, 2011

There has been a lot of buzz about HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE, the debut film from How I Met Your Mother’s Josh Radnor.  Though I tend to roll my eyes at the never-ending downpour of indie romance comedies that are churned out by the dozen, HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE surprised me with originality and above-average performances.

It was hard, at first, to watch Radnor and no think about his character from How I Met Your Mother.  Additionally, knowing that he wrote and directed the film filled me with the pre-conceived idea that I was about to watch 2 hours of Radnor’s reminiscence of his own romantic failures, especially considering the opening shot of a girl’s feet at floor-level as she secretly slips on her undergarments and slips out the door, presumably after a regrettable booze-induced one-night-stand.  After we get past the cliched opening, we get into territory that I’ve never seen in a film like this.

HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE tells the interweaving stories of three couples (four, if you count an unexpected friendship).  The first [two] is/are Sam Wexler (Radnor) and Rasheen (Michael Algieri), a young African-American child who is separated from his foster family on the subway, which is only witnessed by Sam. Knowing that he can’t leave the child, Sam makes several attempts to assist Rasheen, but after learning that the kid doesn’t like his foster family, he and Sam spend time with one another, quickly becoming best friends.  Meanwhile, Sam meets Mississippi (Kate Mara) with whom he initiates a 3-night stand.  After many mis-fires, the two attempt to do right by one another, constantly giving one another 2nd chances.

Another relationship that blooms in this story is that of alopecia-suffering Annie (Malin Ackerman) and her doofy co-worker, Sam #2 (Tony Hale).  After many failed attempts to woo Annie in their office, Sam #2 finally convinces Annie to go on a date with him.  Despite his less-attractive exterior, Annie learns how to break the mold of her failed relationships with 29-going-on-12 year-olds.

Lastly, we follow the story of Artist, Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend, Charlie (Pablo Schreiber).  As they battle with the decision to move to Los Angeles for an impressive business opportunity, they deal with issues common of their ages, but it’s their maturity levels that we see grow.

Watching all of these relationships evolve (and sometimes devolve), it shows how talented Radnor is as a writer and director.  Every piece fit into place, every beginning had a middle and an end.

My only gripe lies in the last few minutes of the film, but mentioning it would only give away the ending to one of the stories.  This gripe, however, is minute in comparison to my overall enjoyment of what I consider an impressive freshman film for somebody whose career about which I am suddenly more excited.

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