Josh Radnor, well-known for his leading role on the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” makes his directorial and screenwriting debut with“HappyThankYouMorePlease,” which premiered January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Award and took home the audience award for Best U.S. Drama. The movie eventually gained a publisher and was distributed in New York and L.A. this March, and it finally reached Rochester last Friday at the Little Theatre.
“HappyThankYouMorePlease” contains some rookie mistakes, but the story as a whole ends up being so compelling that all of these minor errors seem trivial.
Radnor also stars as Sam, a writer struggling to make it as a novelist. Sam’s story is interwoven with two other accounts about his friends, who are similarly young and confused city-dwellers.
The movie begins with Sam heading towards an important business meeting about potentially publishing his book. However, his plans are quickly disrupted when he notices a young child being separated from his family on the subway. In order to help Rasheen (Michael Algieri), the lost boy, back home, Sam ends up being late to the appointment and losing his chance at getting his novel printed. Ultimately, he doesn’t even manage to return Rasheen to his family.
Sam ends up bringing Rasheen home while trying to figure out what to do with him, and in the meantime finds a deep connection and a writing muse in the young boy. Sam’s adventures are periodically interspersed with the story of his eternally optimistic and Alopecia-stricken friend Annie (played by Malin Akerman, known for B-roles in films such as “The Heartbreak Kid” and “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle”) who is simply trying to find love.
We also sometimes follow Sam’s cousin, Mary Katherine (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend, Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), who are facing the prospect of leaving New York.
The film starts off a little rocky: early dialogue ends up being slightly cliché, and the editing and camerawork seems rushed and a bit off. However, the movie quickly comes into its own — either by being so engaging that it’s easy to overlook the few missteps, or by the dialogue and camerawork actually becoming better as the movie progressed. Either way, the few mistakes are only noticeable early in the film.
Radnor does a good job in his role, creating a deep and multi-faceted character that is truly endearing. Despite his good performance, however, Radnor’s cast members outshine him. Algieri does a great job even though it’s his first starring role. Also, Akerman has an incredibly dramatic performance — despite her track record of starring in cheesy rom-coms; hopefully her career will continue on an upward trend. Finally, Schreiber and Kazan had great on-screen chemistry and delivered some of Radnor’s surprisingly hilarious lines very well. The cast, handpicked by Radnor, seemed perfect for their respective roles.
The film is definitely a feel-good look at love and relationships that does a great job at making you walk out of the theater happier than when you went in. It’s not a romantic comedy, but definitely makes a good date movie — the film’s tagline, “Go get yourself loved,” will give you a good idea what it’s all about. If you are looking for an easy viewing experience filled with well-written characters, funny dialogue and a good message, then go out and see “HappyThankYouMorePlease.”
Penney is a member of the class of 2012.