Call him old fashioned, but Judge Paul Pritchard likes his titles to be punctuated and spaced correctly.
Our review of Happythankyoumoreplease (Blu-ray), published June 16th, 2011, is also available.
Go Get Yourself Loved.
Happythankyoumoreplease centers on Sam Wexler (Josh Radnor, How I Met Your Mother) and his circle of friends living in New York City. Sam is a struggling writer with no commitments; with the exception that he rents his own apartment, Sam doesn't show any signs of having grown up, despite nearing the age of thirty. However, a chance encounter with a young boy stranded on the subway changes everything for Sam. Rasheen (Michael Algieri), who was separated from his parents when they departed their train, is taken in by Sam who, for reasons known only to himself, decides against taking the boy to the authorities. This move perplexes Sam's friends, but each of them has their own coming-of-age dramas to deal with in this comedy-drama that is written and directed by Radnor.
Happythankyoumoreplease takes place in that world of hipster independent American cinema where rational decisions are not required to succeed in life, and everyone's dialogue consists of either pop culture references or life-affirming platitudes. This is also a world where, evidently, nobody bathes, preferring instead to simply throw on soiled clothes when they rise from their slumber. The central premise of the film is based on an idea so unlikely—that a thirty-something male would just take in a boy he meets on the subway, rather than take him to the authorities to locate his parents—that it takes a leap of faith on behalf of the viewer far greater than, say, believing a man can fly. And yet, the film is not without its charms.
Going back to the storyline that sees Sam take in Rasheen when chance throws them together in the New York subway: the fact that the legality of Sam's decision is not addressed directly for 75 minutes seems a massive oversight. In truth, Radnor's screenplay relies on the good faith of the audience to accept this in exchange for the emotional growth his character undergoes as a result. Credit where it's due, Radnor pulls it off.
We know that Sam, who is approaching thirty, has yet to make the jump to adulthood by the fact he is repeatedly told early on to tuck in his shirt when going for an important interview. He's impulsive, and rarely shows any signs of a long-term plan. His encounter with Rasheen changes this, and his subsequent meeting with Mississippi (Kate Mara) brings to light Sam's lack of anything meaningful in his life. He quickly sets about to change this, setting up his own little family when he convinces Mississippi to live with him for three days. Mississippi, who we can tell is fragile—in no small part down to her telling Sam this soon after they meet—can see through Sam, and points out that the reason he writes short stories is because he likes living them. By having no real roots, Sam can drop everything and move on without a second though, but if there is to be any future with Rasheen and Mississippi he must learn to finally grow up.
Like Sam, each character is going through some form of turmoil, and be it Annie's (Malin Akerman, Watchmen) search for a real grown up relationship, or Mary (Zoe Kazan) facing up to the prospect of leaving her home town when opportunity comes the way of her partner, Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), there's little doubt as to the outcome. What Radnor is able to do, though, is make these characters likeable, so as to ensure the viewer is emotionally invested in their individual journeys. If you're looking for a complex character study, or something with the emotional depth of Kramer vs. Kramer (a film Happythankyoumoreplease openly references) then you'll not find what you're after here. What Happythankyoumoreplease offers is a sunny, warm, often funny feel-good drama, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Had it pushed that little harder, say, by offering more insight into Rasheen's background, then we'd be looking at a much stronger picture, but any such thoughts should be tempered by remembering this is Radnor's debut feature. Comparisons to Zach Braff, Garden State in particular, are inevitable, and rightly so. Radnor keeps things relatively simple, and reveals a knack for drawing out fine performances from his cast. Even though I've criticized the dialogue, it would be remiss of me to neglect the fact that, even at its most cheesy, there's still undeniable warmth to his words. It is this warmth, coupled with some excellent performances from Akerman and Mara, that make Happythankyoumoreplease infectious, as the viewer is swept up in the film's sentiment.
Special praise should also be given to the film's soundtrack, which is dominated by the contributions of female singer/songwriter Jamie Seerman, who goes by the name of Jaymay. There's no argument that the film as a whole is enriched by Jaymay's contributions, which match the emotional content of the scenes they accompany perfectly.
The 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer is impressive, with good levels of detail, and an overall natural look to the picture. There's a small amount of grain in darker shots, but nothing distracting. The 5.1 soundtrack contains clear dialogue, while the film's score sounds wonderful. The DVD comes with a selection of deleted scenes and a short piece detailing Jaymay's involvement with the soundtrack. Rounding out the set is a commentary track, featuring Radnor and producer Jesse Hara. The track captures the excitement Radnor feels regarding his film, and contains some fun anecdotes and interesting insights into the making of the film.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
Review content copyright © 2011 Paul Pritchard; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.