Generally speaking I do not care for movies about twenty-something, ultra hip urbanites and their various struggles, personally and professionally, while folksy music plays in the background. Generally speaking. Director Josh Radnor’s film ‘Happythankyoumoreplease’ has done absolutely nothing to dissuade my general feelings about this genre. Nonetheless, here we are, so let’s get this over with.
Our writer and director is also the star of our film today, playing the character of Sam Wexler. Sam is an aspiring author living in New York City and his life is a bit of a mess. When we first meet Sam we see some woman he’s just slept with grab her personal sundries and make a quick exit left. One thing I have learned from watching these movies about young twenty-something urbanites is that these kids have a lot of sex and sex comes real easy and more often than not comes with no attachments and few consequences. And this free and easy sex brings these kids absolutely no joy. This is what I have learned.
On his way to an interview with a prospective publisher Sam meets a small abandoned black kid on the subway named Rasheen (Michael Algieri). Not knowing what to do, he takes the kid along, fully intending to drop the kid off at the proper authorities once the interview is over. The kid is a little harder to shake than one would imagine and for the next couple of days Sam has a new roommate. The number of laws that Sam has violated in this movie is almost incalculable.
But Sam isn’t the only urbanite having issues. His best friend Annie (Malin Akerman) has alopecia, not that this is a problem or anything but the girl does have this and throws parties celebrating this. More pressing is that she is looking for love and love keeps kicking her in her hairless ass. There’s a guy at work, also named Sam (Tony Hale), who keeps bugging her but she is so not interested in that guy that it’s almost not even worth mentioning. At least not right now.
Sam’s cousin Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) is a hip artist and is madly in love with Spencer (Pablo Schreiber) who doesn’t do anything in particular that I can tell.
Nonetheless he has recently returned from Los Angeles with a glorious business opportunity and would like Mary Catherine to come with him. Mary Catherine, a New Yorker to her heart, calls Los Angeles the ‘Epicenter of everything that is Awful’. While I wasn’t crazy about this movie, never has a character said anything in any movie ever that rang as true as the words Josh Radnor wrote for his imaginary cousin Mary Catherine.
Sam, while semi-taking care of this eight year old he’s hijacked from the city of New York, is also dealing with his own love thing with the lovely Mississippi the bar maid / lounge singer. (Kate Mara). He likes the girl but he’s not really big on commitment. Mississippi likes the guy but she’s tired of love kicking her in her red-haired ass. Plus he’s kidnapped a black kid.
Kidnapping black kids is generally against the law, no matter how righteous your reasons and Sam will have to pay for this. Hopefully this experience will lead him to love and erase his fear of commitment. Annie loves a guy who doesn’t love her back but there is a guy out there who is crazy about her if only she could see him. That will have to change. Mary Catherine loves Spencer so much that she’s willing to cut him loose and even though it breaks Spencer’s heart, he is willing to go. Unless something happens to change this. Roll credits, cue folksy music.
I imagine one of the problems I might’ve had with ‘Happythankyoumoreplease’ is that everybody in this movie so damn miserable. Nothing made anybody in this movie really happy. Admittedly life is a lot like this but I have to live life everyday and as such I’m not really all that interested in watching life unless life is making me laugh or something along those lines. This movie wasn’t doing any of that. We’re stuck watching these miserable people and their relatively miserable lives, hope these lives get better, which they invariably will, and listen to folksy songs in background. Ultimately this all amounts to a bunch of nothing.
However… Tony Hale almost saves this movie, at least for me, all by his lonesome. For starters, though initially annoying, his character was the least miserable. And by the time his character of Sam #2 put on his full court assault to woo the character of Annie, he was so sincere and the words that came out of his mouth were so earnest and true and spoken with such passion that his character completely won me over and actually had me rooting for him to win this bitter hairless shrew. It wasn’t enough to change my overall opinion of this movie but it did change my opinion of at least a part of this movie. I also liked the way that Radnor handled the kid aspect of his movie. Rasheen is just a kid. He’s not magical, he’s not all knowing, he’s not the black kid inserted to generally make the lives of the white characters in this movie better, he’s just a kid having a bad way who likes to eat cookies and draw. That’s it.
That being said, despite some positives, despite the fact that this movie was well acted across the board by a talented cast, despite some clever dialog bits here and there it still all added up to a bunch of nothing with folksy music playing in the background. I hope that’s not being too harsh on an otherwise earnest effort.