Very much your standard indie romantic dramedy (aching to be a Woody Allen type film), Happythankyoumoreplease is a cut above its cinematic cousins due to a charming nature that allows you to not get annoyed at the protagonists like you otherwise might have. They’re good people, just complainers (they always are in these types of flicks), and actor Josh Radnor (making his writing and directing debut here) does his best to have you identify with them, as to not have you dismiss them. He’s trying to capture a generational moment, and I think he’s effective in that regard. While the flick isn’t anything particularly special, it builds up enough goodwill over the course of its running time that you end up having enjoyed the company of the characters who populate the film. The movie is flawed, but the successes outnumber the failures.
The plot of the film concerns the point in your life where you truly go from being an adolescent to an adult. For these characters, they’re in their late 20’s, and still fighting against the will to drop their cynicism and embrace adulthood. Sam (Radnor) is a failing writer who’s going nowhere. Annie (Malin Ackerman) is fighting to stay happy while dealing with the effects of Alopecia and bad choices in men. Mary Catherine (Zoe Kazan) is struggling to decide if her lifelong desire to stay unmarried and in New York outweighs her desire to support her long-time boyfriend Charlie (Pablo Schreiber), who’s got an opportunity waiting for him in Los Angeles. Events follow that propel these friends into the direction of maturity. For Sam, it’s finding a lost boy named Rasheen (Michael Algieri) and taking him in, while also wooing/scaring himself by liking a girl named Mississippi (Kate Mara). For Annie, it’s the decision to give a chance to a “nice guy” named Sam (or Sam #2 as she calls him…played by Tony Hale) instead of the idiots she normally goes for. For Mary Catherine, it’s the news that she’s pregnant. Their struggles are nothing new, but they’re presented in an appealing enough way that we never really mind.
Each actor does a good job with their material. Radnor is playing the standard “almost man” that these films seem to require, and while he does nothing new with the role, he does sell it very well. Ackerman does the best work of her career (though to be fair, it’s a spotty resume at best otherwise) with a combination of comedy and drama. Her explanation of the way of life that gives the film its name is a high point in the movie. Kazan continues to show she’s one of the best young actresses out there, essaying a woman at war with her own feelings. They all are effective in their roles. The supporting cast is good too, with Mara doing very good work as a spunky love interest, newcomer Alieri as a less than typical young man, Schreiber as a genuinely supportive mate, and Hale as an endlessly chipper guy who just wants to make the girl he likes feel appreciated. Richard Jenkins also has a cameo, but it’s mostly just that, a cameo.
Without this good a cast, the flick wouldn’t have survived.
Radnor shoots the film intimately, getting us to feel like we’re a friend of the group, a fly on the wall. His direction is good, and his writing is solid. I’d say he has a future. His ability to cast a flick is his biggest strength though, as he assembled a group of performers that (for the most part) elevated his material. I’m not sure if he’s looking to continue to be a multi-hyphenate, but he’s got the talent to do so if he wishes.
Happythankyoumoreplease isn’t on the level of Woody’s neurotic New Yorker tales, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a perfectly enjoyable dramedy that doesn’t overstay its welcome and knows how to please. I’d have liked a slightly more original plot, but it’s not a huge complaint. If you like mellow indie cinema that’s not too heavy, this is something to check out. You just might be saying “thank you, more please” at the end…