CATEGORIES Comedy, Drama, Romance, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
Its strange title isn't the only reason why people have been buzzing about happythankyoumoreplease. Josh Radnor's (How I Met Your Mother) directorial debut is extremely accessible and relatable with its cute, hip New York vibe and believable, well-written dialogue that doesn't force out stupid MySpace/Twitter/Facebook jokes in order to remind young audiences of how relevant it is. The premise, which follows three New York couples trying to navigate their way through professional and personal entanglements, isn't very fresh or unique (Woody Allen and Eddie Burns have driven down these roads plenty of times before), but the sharp-witted script -- combined with a watch-out-for-this-guy performance from Radnor himself -- will easily win over young, contemporary audiences desperately seeking a little more down-to-earth from their romantic dramedies.
While on his way to an important meeting with a publisher, Sam, an aspiring novelist (and serial one-night-stander), notices a young boy get separated from his family on the subway. But when Sam tries to help the boy by bringing him to the police station, the kid cautiously refuses, and instead decides to follow Sam to his meeting, to his apartment, to pick up a girl (Kate Mara) and to a friend's party -- eventually creating a situation where neither Sam nor the boy want to leave each other's side. Meanwhile, Sam's friend (they call each other "cousins" because their families are close) Mary (Zoe Kazan) and her boyfriend Charlie are at odds over a potential move to Los Angeles for his newfound business opportunity -- a riff that grows even wider when Mary thinks she might be pregnant. Finally, both Sam and Mary are friends with Annie (Malin Akerman), a sweet hippie-ish ex-party chick with a rare form of cancer who's trying to decide between the crazy, edgy ex-boyfriend and the quirky gentlemanly co-worker (Tony Hale in a surprisingly understated and genuine performance).
Yeah, you can roll your eyes about now because you're sick of all those crummy "relationship" movies that think they're clever and hip, and you probably think that based on my description happythankyoumoreplease is just another rom-com that doesn't bring anything new to the table. Fortunately, you'd be wrong in thinking that, because while the film definitely has its slower, more conventional moments, there's plenty of surprises left unopened and unexamined -- especially in the completely unique and emotional moments that Akerman and Hale share together on screen. Not your typical movie couple to say the least, but both actors are taken completely out of their comfort zones for this film, and watching them explore characters and situations we've never really seen them in was worth the price of admission all on its own. This was by far Malin Akerman's finest performance to date, and it's one that proves she's a lot more than on-screen eye candy.
Smaller problems I had with the film are issues I have with most New York-based films: why, exactly, if our characters are kinda-sorta scrapping together paychecks, do they all live in really awesome apartments? A tiny concern, yes, but one I'll never drop until someone actually gets it right and creates a character who lives in a real NYC apartment (think the size of your hallway closet). The film also felt like it let its characters off easy, while it wraps everything up a little too smoothly. With a few more punches injected into the plot, this would've easily become the next quintessential New York relationship movie; the kind that's quoted on deli walls and during real-life domestic arguments (especially when it comes to the film's fantastic, soon-to-be-iconic LA vs NY dispute).
As a director, Radnor keeps his film feeling shiny and not completely unlike the sort of New York you'd see in a television sitcom (in fact, his storyline with the lost kid, while fun to watch, felt like something you'd see on a sitcom). That's not to knock the job he did -- there just wasn't anything that felt new or inspired; the film was shot for a mainstream audience, and it plays that way too. happythankyoumoreplease is an easy film that's not going to flip your mind upside down halfway through, but instead will serve you a cute script that brings enough laughs and endearing moments to make it a must-see on date night.
For more on the film -- and to find out why it's called happythankyoumoreplease -- check out out brief interview with Josh Radnor.